By Ruth A. Pagell*
- THE’s new Arab University ranking adds new metrics to its regional methodology
- QS adds SDG metrics to its World rankings
- Clarivate issues a research report on Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey (MENAT)
(3 Sept 2021) In 2017 and 2018, THE published lists of top Arab League universities, extracting data from its world rankings (Bhardwa). In 2021 Arab rankings reappeared. The new metrics are included in recognition of the changing roles of the university in society (Bothwell).
Ruth’s Rankings introduced the Arab League in 2018. The Arab region consists of Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates that are included in THE and QS rankings. Sudan, Syria, and Yemen appear in QS Arab rankings. Comoros, Djibouti, Mauritania, and Somalia are on neither list but can be found in Webometrics. These countries range from Low income to Upper income (World Bank). Middle Eastern countries not in the Arab League are Iran, Israel, and Turkey.
125 universities are ranked. An additional 30 universities are listed as “Reporter status”. They submitted data but did not qualify for a rank. Saudi Arabia leads the rankings in quality and Egypt in quantity.
World university methodology includes five areas and 13 indicators. Arab university methodology has five areas, adds three indicators, and changes one area. Below are the Arab areas. See Appendix A for the list of all the indicators.
- Teaching (the Learning Environment): 33%
- Research (volume, income, and reputation): 33%
- Citations (research influence): 20%
- Society (knowledge transfer and impact): 6%; (NEW)
- International outlook (staff, students, research): 8%
Teaching and Research use surveys. To counter criticisms about surveys, THE states that “Only academics in the Arab region and who had been cited in published papers were invited to participate. It [the survey] examined the perceived prestige of institutions in teaching and research.”
By adding Arab rankings in 2021, institutions can appear in six THE rankings: World, Arab, Asia, Emerging, Impact, and Young.
QS states that it has been publishing an Arab Region University Rankings from 2014. Rankings are available on the search interface from 2019. The 2022 edition is due in October 2021. If I change the date at the end of the URL, I can get back to 2015: https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/arab-region-university-rankings/2015
Rankings: See Table 1a for the Arab top ten for THE and QS and Table 1b for top in each Arab country. Table 1a also displays top 10 Arab and Saudi Arabia universities across the different rankings. The highest number of Arab institutions are included in Impact rankings. Saudi Arabia is the only country in which their top universities participate in the SDG project.
CONCLUSION to Arab ranking
THE’s overall methodology has been questioned, most recently by Holmes. They have modified their reputation surveys for the Arab rankings by only including scholars from the region. Metrics taken from Impact Rankings have been added. Despite the issues with various aspects of THE rankings, they are at least trying to find ways to expand the evaluation of universities.
QS and SDG Ratings
University Impact Rankings based on SDGs have been associated with THE, which introduced the Impact Rankings in 2019. QS has integrated SDG ratings into their World Rankings interface. In this first iteration, the focus is on research in two broad SDG categories QS created, environment, and inequality:
- Environmental Impact: SDG 7, Affordable and clean energy, SDG 11. Sustainable cities and communities, SDG 12, Responsible consumption and production, SDG 13, Climate action, SDG 14, Life below water, SDG 15 Life on Land
- Equal Opportunity: SDG 5, Gender Equality, and SDG 10, reduced inequalities
Universities are rated gold, silver, bronze, candidate, and not rated, and listed within each category based on their world ranking. See Appendix A for the methodology.
Searches are based on the Elsevier’s SDG keyword searches, available in SCOPUS. See Appendix C from my Winter 2021 update for detailed information on the search strategies and public access to the searches.
QS World Rankings interface has added a third filter, SDG Rating that do not affect the overall rankings.
By the numbers (out of a total of 1,300): The top universities in the world are also the top in both categories.
Environmental Impact Ratings:
- 175 are gold; 846 are rated.
- 42 of the World top 50 are gold.
- 27 of the 399 Asian universities are gold; 208 are rated.
- 18 gold are from Oceania; 43 out of 46 are rated.
Equal Opportunity Ratings
- 121 are gold; 605 are rated.
- 30 of the world top 50 are gold.
- Two of the 399 Asian universities are gold; 85 are rated.
- 34 of the Asian top 50 are rated
- 10 Oceania ae gold; 42 are rated
Given the focus on research, it is not surprising that top ranked universities received gold ratings. 27 of the top 50 were gold in both categories. Asian universities did not score as well. Two scored gold in both. See Table 2 below for the ratings of the top universities in both categories.
QS ratings are not comparable to THE’s Impact rankings. Only one university from QS’ World and Asia/Pac top ten, MIT, participated in THE’s Impact Ranking.
CONCLUSION for QS’ SDG Ratings
Using bibliometrics as the basis for its first rating, QS results favour the usual suspects. Only 15% of the universities rated gold for Environmental Impact are ranked below 300 in the world. The underlying data are not public. It is not clear what their next steps will be. At this point, this pilot is not ready for prime time!
CLARIVATE’s analysis of the research landscape of MENAT (Middle East, North Africa and Turkey)
As I was putting the finishing touches of this update, I received an email from Clarivate, providing access to a report on research in the MENAT region. It is an interesting overview of collaboration and incorporates SDGs. The report is free with registration (Adams, et.al.) as is a very clear accompanying webinar (Adams). Winter 2021 introduced the Arabic Citation Index. Clarivate is working with scholars in Iran and Turkey to create their own indices.
Three of the most prolific regional countries are not Arabic: Iran, Israel, and Turkey. Iran has the most output, followed by Turkey. Israel has the most output per capita. Based on Scopus data, these three countries have more output and citations than the total for the Arab League.
The report focuses on collaboration, within the region and internationally. 55% of their MENAT publications are published by authors at one institution, 5% within the region, and the other 40% internationally.
I used Scopus data to drill down into collaboration. It is what is used by THE and QS. Also, SciVal offers data packaged for the Arab League, Western Asia, and I created a package for Iran, Turkey, and Israel. Turkey has the most regional collaborations within MENAT, and Iran and Saudi Arabia are its top collaborators. Turkey also collaborates with Israel. Within the Arab League, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the top collaborators, and Saudi Arabia’s other top partners are Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. See Figure 1 for different collaboration patterns from SciVal.
Clarivate took a different approach to assigning SDGs to an article. It identified articles in Web of Science that used the term Sustainable Development Goals and created a dataset of these articles and the articles they cited. They then created 812 different subgoals, that are not directly mapped to the UN’s SDGs. Nor are they mapped to any of InCites schema. See Appendix B for an example of Soil Science.
Including Iran, Israel, and Turkey with the Arab League countries provides a better picture of the research landscape of the region.
Coming Attractions include an update to the 2022 THE World University rankings with an emphasis on changes in international rankings.
Adams, J. (8 Apr 2021). Launch of report “The changing research landscape of the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey. Webinar https://clarivate.com/webofsciencegroup/webinars/launch-of-report-the- changing-research-landscape-of-the-middle-east-north-africa-and-turkey/
Adams. J., et. al. (2021) The changing research landscape the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey. ISI Global research report, https://clarivate.com/webofsciencegroup/campaigns/the-changing-research-landscape-of-the-middle-east-north-africa-and-turkey/
Bhardwa, S. (16 May 2017). Best universities in the Arab world revealed. Times Higher Education, https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/best-universities-arab-world-revealed NOTE: Clicking on a link to connect to the list leads to the current new Arab University rankings.
Bothwell, E. (27 July 2021). Arab university rankings 2021: results announced https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/arab-university-rankings-2021-results-announced
World Bank (1 July 2021 ) Country and lending groups, 2021-2022 – Country classification, https://datahelpdesk.worldbank.org/knowledgebase/articles/906519-world-bank-country-and-lending-groups
Holmes, Richard (12 August 2021). THE’s Caucus Ranking. University Rankings Watch, http://rankingwatch.blogspot.com/2021/08/
O, C. (6 Aug 2021). QS World University Rankings: Sustainable Development Goals. https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/world-university-rankings/sustainable-development-goals and Methodology, https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/world-university-rankings/sustainable-development-goals/methodology
QS Arab region rankings: https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/arab-region-university-rankings/2021
Staff Writer (14 Mar 2021). QS university rankings: Arab region methodology, https://www.topuniversities.com/arab-region-rankings/methodology
THE Arab University rankings; https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/2021/arab-university-rankings#!
THE Arab methodology 2021; https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/arab-university-rankings-2021-methodology
THE World methodology 2021; https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/world-university-rankings-2021-methodology
World Bank (1 July 2021) Country and lending groups, 2021-2022 – Country classification, https://datahelpdesk.worldbank.org/knowledgebase/articles/906519-world-bank-country-and-lending-groups
Ruth’s Rankings Updates:
Article 6 (Dec 2014): Scholarly rankings from the Asian perspective, http://librarylearningspace.com/ruths-rankings-6-scholarly-rankings-asian-perspective/
Update 2017 (Aug 2017): http://librarylearningspace.com/ruths-rankings-news-flash-arwu-2017-merrier/
Update Winter 2021 (Mar 2021): Exciting new features from Clarivate and Elsevier and updates to University Ranking, , https://librarylearningspace.com/exciting-new-features-from-clarivate-and-elsevier-and-updates-to-university-rankings-ruths-rankings-news-update-winter-2021/
See Appendix C for more on SDGs. https://librarylearningspace.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Appendix-C-Searched-SDGs.pdf
A list of Ruth’s Rankings and News Updates is here.
*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