What do the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, King Abdulaziz University and Harvard University have in common? Ruth’s Rankings October-November 2019 Update

By Ruth A. Pagell*

  • Nature releases its top Young Universities rankings with 42 East Asia/Pacific universities
  • QS’ Arab Region 2020 Rankings has a new regional leader
  • U.S. News Best Global Universities adds 250 new institutions, but few from ASEAN
  • Following up on Ruth’s Rankings 41 on sustainability, a U.S. urban university embraces farming
  • Other news on higher education: academic freedom and what researchers want

NATURE  Index Young Universities Supplement                                                    

See Ruth’s Rankings 7 for background information on the Nature Index. The Index ranks its institutions on output from a package of 82 scientific journals using two metrics:

  • Fractional Count – FC – with each author assigned the value of one divided by the number of authors in an article. It is the default in Young Universities and,
  • Article Count – AC – with every author getting full credit for the article.

Nature Index Young universities lists the top 175  by FC, with founding dates from 1969 through 2015. The list also includes AC, top subject areas and rank in the annual Nature World Ranking table. See Table 1A (in pdf) for the top ten in the world. See Table 1B (in pdf) for the top ten in Asia/Pac and the top from the other ranked Asia/Pac countries. I recalibrated ranks in Table 1B to reflect the institutions’ positions in the region.

Eight of the world’s top 10 are from Asia and eight are “Science & Technology” universities.  Nine universities, six of which are from Asia/Pac, have been singled out as being in the “fast lane”

There are special lists for the following broad subjects.

  1. Top 25 in Earth and Environmental Sciences
  2. Top 50 in Physical Sciences
  3. Top 50 in Chemistry
  4. Top 50 in Life Sciences

The University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) dominates the lists. It is tops in the world in FC and AC and in categories one through three. Nanyang Technology University (Singapore) is second in the same categories and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) is third. Oregon Health and Sciences University is first in Life Sciences and UCAS is second.

Changes to Nature since RR 7 include an increase in the number of journals and the discontinuation of the Asia/Pacific Index.

Ruth’s Rankings 25 covered QS’ and THEs’ Young University Rankings, which were first released in 2012.  See Tables 1A and 1B for their current comparison with Nature. They both recalibrate the same metrics used in their world rankings. They differ from Nature in that they include universities that have merged to form new universities and they do not cover graduate-degree only institutions such as UCAS. Three young universities are top ten on all world lists:  Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology). Close runners-up are Hong Kong City U and Pohang University of Science and Technology with Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology also on all lists.

QS Arab Region University Rankings 2020

22 countries from west Asian and North Africa are members of the League of Arab Nations, the country grouping used for Arab rankings.  QS produced its first Arab rankings in 2014 and 2016-2017 is the first readily available list on the 2020 website.  Starting with 100 universities, this year’s list includes 129.  I checked the methodology, read the digital supplement, and contacted QS to determine how universities are selected for inclusion. Criteria are the same as for the world rankings. Bibliometric data comes from Scopus and there are no criteria for number of articles or citations.

  • Reputation: Arab- 30% Academic 20% Employer; World – 40% 10%
  • Faculty student ratio: Arab 15%; World 20%
  • Papers per faculty: Arab 5%; World 20%
  • Citations per paper: Arab 5%; per faculty: world 20%
  • Proportion international faculty: Arab and World 5%; students 5%
  • International research network: Arab10% -new in 2019
  • Web impact: Arab 5% with data from Webometrics’ Ranking Web of Universities, impact metric
  • Proportion of staff with a PhD: Arab – 5%

Table 2 (in pdf) includes three lists with the Arab ranking, QS world rankings and Webometrics Arab and world rankings.

  • Top ten universities, representing seven countries are: Saudi Arabia (SA-3); United Arab Emirates (AE-2); and one each from Lebanon (LB), Qatar (QA), Oman (OM), Egypt (EG) and Jordan (JO). King Abdulaziz is number one for the first time.
  • The top university from the nine other countries in the rankings are: Algeria (DZ), Bahrain (BH), Iraq (IQ), Kuwait (KW), Morocco (MA), Palestinian Territory (PS), Sudan (SD), Syrian Arab Republic (SY) and Tunisia (TN).
  • The top universities, for six countries that are not in the rankings, from Scopus output data are: Djibouti, Comoros, Libya, Mauritania, Somalia and Yemen.

U.S. News Best Global Universities 2020

This year marks the 35th edition of U.S. News’ U.S. Colleges rankings and the sixth year of their Best Global Universities. For background, see Ruth’s Rankings 11. Starting with 500 universities, this October’s list has 1,500 universities, 250 more universities and six additional countries then 2019. The methodology is clear: 25% of the score is from reputation surveys sent to academics in Clarivate Analytics’ databases. Using InCites data, derived from Web of Science, 50% of the metrics are size dependent outputs and the remaining 25% are size independent.  See Table 3 (in pdf) for the top 10 in the World, East Asia, Australia and the remaining Asia/Pac countries.  The world’s top 10 and East Asian top 11 remained the same as 2019, with slight changes in the order. Harvard remains number one in the world; Tsinghua is first in Asia and Melbourne in Australia.

For U.S. readers, global rankings differ from U.S. National University rankings.  Five of the top ten are the same.  One U.S. university is in the top 7% of the 399 U.S. National universities and the bottom 25% of the 259 U.S. universities in global rankings. Students and perspective faculty should check both rankings to see which metrics are best for them. The marketing department has a choice as well.

Update for RR 41 Sustainability:

In Example 1 of RR41, I highlighted Emory University’s commitment to sustainable goals.  This week’s Emory Report has an in-depth article on its engagement in the Farm to Table Movement.  It is working with a local conservation group that is buying up land to lease to young framers and is committing to purchasing the food to use in its institutions.

NOTE:  If your institution has sustainability initiatives that you would like highlighted, please let me know. Email rpagell@emory.edu

Academic Freedom as a new metric

When Ruth’s Rankings examines countries, as in our last article on ASEAN we look at metrics such as freedom of the press.  A new article in Inside Higher Education (Dutta) suggests that “College ranking metrics should include academic freedom”.  This may be a topic of more concern on U.S. campuses then in other countries with highly ranked universities but low rankings on freedoms.

Dutta, M.J., Ashford, R. and Biswas, S. (6 November 2019).  “College ranking metrics should include academic freedom”. Inside Higher Education, accessed at https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2019/11/06/why-academic-freedom-should-be-included-college-rankings-opinion?utm_source=Inside+Higher+Ed&utm_campaign=840d17291d-WNU_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-840d17291d-199393305&mc_cid=840d17291d&mc_eid=3eebe3e1c7

Open Access from the researchers’ perspectives

Librarians were early and vocal proponents of open access but what do researchers want?  Taylor & Francis surveyed researchers from around the world to get their views on publishing options and priorities.  88% agree or strongly agree in principle that everyone should have access to their work, and they do not agree in how to do this.  84% agree or strongly agree that they should have freedom to submit their work for consideration to the journal of their choice regardless of funding model  See Taylor & Francis Researcher Survey (Oct 2019)  to retrieve the entire survey at https://authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com/researcher-survey-2019/


*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 – https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3238-9674