- Harvard University is number one in the world as it has been since 2003.
- The University of Tokyo remains number one in Asia.
- Prince of Songkla University enters the ranking with a Highly Cited author.
(17 August 2017) Updates of ARWU (Academic Rankings of World Universities, from the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy) are often not newsworthy. The number of universities that are ranked and the metrics that are used do not change. Because 30 percent of the scoring is based on alumni or staff prize winners, the top universities have remained stable over time.
Surprise! The 2017 ARWU rankings have changes in content, functionality and politics. There are 300 additional “Candidate” universities, ranked 501-800. Users can finally search by location. Institutions from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are represented separately from China
In arriving at the top 500, ARWU considers 1,300 universities that meet their criteria. It continues to use articles from Science Citation Index and Social Science Citation Index for the source of bibliometrics. Only “articles” as a document type have been used since 2014.
44 countries are represented in the top 500. The number of Unites States institutions continues to decline while the number of Chinese institutions continues to grow. Eight additional countries not in the 2016 rankings each has one in the “Candidate list”. 75 percent of the candidates are from Asia-Pacific. (See Table 1. News Flash ARWU: Asia/Pacific universities).
There are never surprises at the top of the world rankings. The top 11 same universities as in 2003 and 16 of the top 20 are the same. 24 universities comprised the top 20 for the four years that are presented.16 of the 2017 top 20 are from the United States. University of Tokyo was the only university to fall out of the 2016 top 20. (Table 2. News Flash ARWU World Top 20)
University of Tokyo remains top in Asia, but dropped four places on the world stage from 2016. The top 15 Asian universities are the same as 2016. Only Tsinghua University, number one in mainland China, went up in the world rankings. Table 3 presents the top Asian universities from 2003 to 2017.
Adding 300 universities makes ARWU relevant to more institutions that are playing the rankings game. While no individual scores are presented, it is possible to see the score for each of the metrics. For example, Donghua University (China) ranked 501-600 has a Highly Cited score comparable to Lund University (Sweden) which is ranked 101-150 in the world.
To see how these rankings compare to other scholarly rankings I went back to last month’s Ruth’s Rankings 28 on Japan and modified Table 28 4. to include all the Japanese universities ranked in 2017 ARWU and Leiden. (Table 4 News Flash ARWU Japanese Scholarly Rankings). 30 universities are on both lists.
The 2017 iteration of ARWU will be appealing to more scholars, institutions and policy makers because it includes more universities and provides individual performance scores. Some of the data elements are available freely on the web, such as Noble prize winners or highly cited scholars. The bibliometric data from Web of Science requires a subscription. With 30 percent of the ranking based on the limited number of prize winners and another 60 percent size dependent (number of articles published based on size of the faculty: Larger universities seem to perform better because they have more faculty who produce more articles), any changes in rankings will come slowly.
Ruth’s Rankings News Flash! is written by Ruth A. Pagell, 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 – orcid.org/0000-0003-3238-9674.