Ruth’s Rankings 36 – Innovation, Automation, and Technology Part 1: From Scholarly Articles to Patents

By Ruth Pagell*

  • What institution is the most innovative in the Asia-Pacific region?
  • What type of innovation ranking can you find on U-Multirank?

(13 July 2018) In this article and the one following, we look at new rankings of universities and their countries from the perspective of innovation as measured by patents.

This article introduces a new world of bibliometrics derived from patents. Patent metrics include number of patents, citations of patents citing other patents and patents citing scholarly articles. To ease into patents gently we will begin with a more traditional article, looking at university innovation rankings from two providers, Reuters and U-Multirank and the commercial information provider for the underlying data.

Reuters has released its third annual  Top 75: Asia-Pacific’s Most Innovative Universities. At the same time, the 2018 U-Multirank annual update included a list of the 25 top performers in patents-awarded.  Previous articles about world geopolitics ( Ruth’s Rankings 29,) and Asian country rankings (Ruth’s Rankings  21)  provide background for the patent articles.


Reuters most innovative universities

Reuters produces lists of Most Innovative Universities for the World, (Sept 2017),  Asia-Pacific (June 2018) and  Europe (April 2018). Reuters introduced the first Top 100 World’s Most Innovative Universities in 2015, using data from Thomson Reuters Web of Science (WOS) and Derwent Patent data ( Bothwell, Ewalt, 2015). The rankings rate “educational institutions doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies and power new markets and industries” (Ewalt, D. 26 September 2017).

Today the data comes from Clarivate Analytics and the methodology and data sources remain the same.  The final lists are culled from over 600 global organizations meeting two criteria.  They are the tops in scholarly output from Web of Science (WOS). For Asia-Pacific and Europe, they have filed at least 50 patents with the World Intellectual Patent Office (WIPO).  70 patent filings with WIPO are required for the World ranking.  The time range for the 2018 ranking is between 2011 and 2016.

Reuters bases its composite  score on 10 metrics, from three categories: Patent metrics, Industry – university metrics and WOS Core Collection metrics. (See Table 36:1).

China leads the Asia-Pacific group with 24 universities. Universities from South Korea and Japan take the top three spots: KAIST is number one followed by University of Tokyo and Pohang. See Table 36:2 for Reuters rankings compared with other rankings using patent metrics. KU Leuven (Belgium) is number one in Reuters Europe’s Top 100 followed by the UK’s Imperial and Cambridge. (Table 36:3 with Reuters compared with CWTS/Leiden rankings).


Reuters’ bibliometric patent data are derived from patent filings found in CA’s Derwent World Patents Index and Derwent Patents Citation Index.  They are accessible on WOS as one product, Derwent Innovations Index, and on ProQuest Dialog and STN as two files.  The beginning of  Elsevier’s Patent Guide is a good source for those of us who are not patent experts. As of 7 July 2018, Derwent World Patents Index included over 37 million patent records starting in 1963 and 13.6 million between 2013-2018.

In the World Patents Index each record links to a list of patents and scholarly articles cited by the patent  (backwards citations or references in library speak) and patents citing the patent. It links to some of the cited articles in WOS.  It does not list articles citing patents.

For example, Tsinghua University  (Univ Tsinghua or Univ Qinghua) have over 15,000 patent records between 2013-2018.  Over 5,000 have been cited at least one time.

The Patents Citation Index expands the citation trail.  The most highly cited Tsinghua patent was cited 34 times.  The Citation Index lists the citations for each of those 34 patents.

Derwent, in conjunction with ProQuest Dialog, provide sample pages for  World Patents Index and Derwent Patents Citation Index.


The two featured rankings from the 2018 release of U-Multirank are 25 top performing universities by selected indicators and a ready-made ranking called Economic Engagement.  The relevant list for this article is Patents Awarded (size normalized by student enrollment) with data from CWTS/Leiden and PATSTAT.  Rockefeller University is top in the world and Gwangju Institute of Science & Technology (KR) is top in Asia-Pacific.

Institutional participation remains low for North America And Asia. Ten of the top 25 on the patents list are either medical schools or universities with highly rated medical schools. See Table 36.4 comparing the U-Multirank list with Reuters and ARWU.

Economic Engagement is a “Readymade” option.  U-Multirank classifies seven of the ten metrics as Knowledge Transfer. The other three metrics involve regional engagement data that are supplied by 40% of the  institutions. Only two of the top 25 in Table 36:4 are on this list of 515 institutions.

Institutions are graded from A to E on each metric. 51 received an A. Relevant metrics are listed below with the top in the world and Asia-Pacific. The two universities in bold are the only ones on the Reuters lists.

  1. Co-publications with an industrial partner (based on percent of publications):  LUISS Guido Carli University (Italy); Fukuoka Women’s University (Japan).
  2. Patents awarded to researchers in the university from 2002 – 2011:  King Fahd U of Petroleum and Minerals (Saudi Arabia); Tohoku University (Japan)
  3. Industry co-patents: Percentage of patents assigned to university coapplied with industry from 2002-2011:   University of Essex (UK); Western Sydney University (Australia); Kansai (Japan)
  4. Publications cited in patents: the percentage of the university’s research publications in references by at least one international patent (as included in the PATSTAT database). Tokyo Medical & Dental University (Japan);

Other metrics are Income from private sources excluding tuition fees, spin-offs and income from continuous professional development.


CWTS Leiden Collaboration Rankings 2018 uses data from WOS and InCites.

  • Number of publications with industry:  Harvard (1); University of Tokyo (4)
  •  Percent of publication with industry: China University of Petroleum Beijing (1); Eindhoven University of Technology (3)

Times Higher Education World Rankings Industry Income (also referred to as Knowledge Transfer)  is weighted at 2.5% of the composite score. University supplied data are used dividing the research income an institution earns from industry (adjusted for PPP), scaled against the number of academic staff it employs.  Ten universities tied for first place, seven on the Reuters lists: Eindhoven, University of Freiburg, KAIST, LMU Munich, Peking University, Technical University of Munich and Duke.  National Cheng Kung (TW), Pohang and Tsinghua join the top five for the Asia 2018 list.

Scimago Institutions Rankings display only a composite rank.  Innovation makes up 30% of the score. The category uses data from PATSTATS including number of patents (PT) and the number (IK) and percent of scholarly publications (TI) cited in patents.  TI is size independent. Four Chinese universities are in the second percentile for innovation, placing them in the top 100 out of 5,600 institutions: Tsinghua, Zhejiang, Peking and Shanghai Jiao Tong.  (Pagell, 2018)


Reuters Most Innovative Universities Rankings introduces us to both the world of patents and the importance of innovation along with scholarship as measures of universities’ contribution to the world of knowledge.  The takeaway from Part 1 is to recognize that there is another layer of data that defines quality institutions.

Part 2 will look at how patent data are used in ranking countries  with examples from the Economist Intelligence Unit and WIPO.

For those cannot wait for part two,  Appendix 36.A has more information about patents and sources for patent information and an accompanying Example.   I would like to thank Arleen Zank  at  Wayfinder for her help.  For those interested in more information about patent filings see her answers to my questions in Appendix 36.B.

Bothwell, E.  (16 September 2015).  The world’s most innovative universities. Are

Ewalt, D. (24 April 2018).  Reuters Top 100:  Europe’s Most Innovative Universities – 2018

Ewalt, D. (26 September 2017).  Reuters top 100: The world most innovative universities in 2017.  The next edition is planned for early October 2018.  This article includes a good analysis of the relative decline in rankings of Japanese universities. Methodology includes a minimum of 70 patents.

Pagell, Ruth (June 2018).  A series of emails to two colleagues at Scimago did not even produce the top performer in each of the three categories.  I found the percentile information by looking at individual university profiles.

Ruth’s Rankings

  1. Introduction: Unwinding the Web of International Research Rankings
  2. A Brief History of Rankings and Higher Education Policy
  3. Bibliometrics: What We Count and How We Count
  4. The Big Two: Thomson Reuters and Scopus
  5. Comparing Times Higher Education (THE) and QS Rankings
  6. Scholarly Rankings from the Asian Perspective 
  7. Asian Institutions Grow in Nature
  8. Something for Everyone
  9. Expanding the Measurement of Science: From Citations to Web Visibility to Tweets
  10. Do-It-Yourself Rankings with InCites 
  11. U S News & World Report Goes Global
  12. U-Multirank: Is it for “U”?
  13. A Look Back Before We Move Forward
  14. SciVal – Elsevier’s research intelligence –  Mastering your metrics
  15. Analyzing 2015-2016 Updated Rankings and Introducing New Metrics
  16. The much maligned Journal Impact Factor
  17. Wikipedia and Google Scholar as Sources for University Rankings – Influence and popularity and open bibliometrics
  18. Rankings from Down Under – Australia and New Zealand
  19. Rankings from Down Under Part 2: Drilling Down to Australian and New Zealand Subject Categories
  20. World Class Universities and the New Flagship University: Reaching for the Rankings or Remodeling for Relevance
  21. Flagship Universities in Asia: From Bibliometrics to Econometrics and Social Indicators
  22. Indian University Rankings – The Good the Bad and the Inconsistent
  23. Are Global Higher Education Rankings Flawed or Misunderstood?  A Personal Critique
  24. Malaysia Higher Education – “Soaring Upward” or Not?
  25. THE Young University Rankings 2017 – Generational rankings and tips for success
  26. March Madness –The rankings of U.S universities and their sports
  27. Reputation, Rankings and Reality: Times Higher Education rolls out 2017 Reputation Rankings
  28. Japanese Universities:  Is the sun setting on Japanese higher education?
  29. From Bibliometrics to Geopolitics:  An Overview of Global Rankings and the Geopolitics of Higher Education edited by Ellen Hazelkorn
  30. Hong Kong and Singapore: Is Success Sustainable?
  31. Road Trip to Hong Kong and Singapore – Opening new routes for collaboration between librarians and their stakeholders
  32. The Business of Rankings – Show me the money
  33. Authors:  People and processes
  34. Authors: Part 2 – Who are you?
  35. Come together:  May updates lead to an investigation of Collaboration 
  36. Innovation, Automation, and Technology Part 1:  From Scholarly Articles to Patents;     Innovation, Automation, and Technology Part 2: Innovative Companies and Countries
  37. Part 2: How Important are Journal Quality Metrics in the Era of Potential/ possible/ probable predatory publishers and publications?
  38. Coming Attractions: The UN Sustainable Development Goals and Times Higher Education Innovation and Impact Rankings Demystified
  39. Business School Rankings: Monkey Business for an Asia/Pac audience
  40. Deconstructing QS Subjects and Surveys
  41. THE’s University Impact Rankings and Sustainable Development Goals: Are these the most impactful universities in the world?
  42. ASEAN – a special analysis of ASEAN nations
  43. Predatory practices revisited – misunderstandings and positive actions

*Ruth A. Pagell is emeritus faculty librarian at Emory University.  After working at Emory she was the founding librarian of the Li Ka Shing Library at Singapore Management University and then adjunct faculty [teaching] in the Library and Information Science Program at the University of Hawaii.  She has written and spoken extensively on various aspects of librarianship, including contributing articles to ACCESS –