Category: Rankings

What’s in a name? How false author affiliations are damaging academic research

When reading a research paper, can you be certain that the institution the author claims to be affiliated with is actually the institution that was responsible for supporting the research? In this post Vivienne C. Bachelet presents findings from a recent study suggesting that a significant proportion of author affiliations are unverifiable. Highlighting how a lack of editorial guidance in […]

Book Review: The Good University: What Universities Actually Do and Why It’s Time for Radical Change by Raewyn Connell

In The Good University: What Universities Actually Do and Why It’s Time for Radical Change, Raewyn Connell provides a powerful and expansive critique of the current state of higher education at a variety of different geographical scales. While this lucid and important book makes clear that the global state of higher education is at a crossroads, its optimism should make it a deserved […]

Charting the rise and fall of North American leadership in global science: Insights from the population of Nobel Laureates.

For the majority of the last century North America has been at the epicentre of global scientific research. However, through the course of the 21st century other countries have begun to close this gap in a number of ways, notably China is now the global leader in published research and is on course to overtake the US in research spending by […]

The academic papers researchers regard as significant are not those that are highly cited

For many years, academia has relied on citation count as the main way to measure the impact or importance of research, informing metrics such as the Impact Factor and the h-index. But how well do these metrics actually align with researchers’ subjective evaluation of impact and significance? Rachel Borchardt and Matthew R. Hartings report on a study that compares researchers’ […]

Random audits could shift the incentive for researchers from quantity to quality

The drive to publish papers has created a hyper-competitive research environment in which researchers who take care to produce relatively few high-quality papers are out-competed by those who cut corners so their bibliometrics look good. Adrian Barnett suggests one way to push back against the pressure to “publish or perish” is to randomly audit a small proportion of researchers and […]

Where are the rising stars of research working? Towards a momentum-based look at research excellence

Traditional university rankings and leaderboards are largely an indicator of past performance of academic staff, some of whom conducted the research for which they are most famous elsewhere. Paul X. McCarthy has analysed bibliometric data to see which research institutions are accelerating fastest in terms of output and impact. The same data also offers a glimpse into the future, helping […]

The methodology used for the Times Higher Education World University Rankings’ citations metric can distort benchmarking

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings can influence an institution’s reputation and even its future revenues. However, Avtar Natt argues that the methodology used to calculate its citation metrics can have the effect of distorting benchmarking exercises. The fractional counting approach applied to only a select number of papers with high author numbers has led to a situation whereby […]

The effect of NSS scores and league tables on student demand and university application rates is relatively small.

As competition for student recruitment continues to intensify, policymakers and administrators are encouraging an emphasis on ‘student experience’. The National Student Survey (NSS) scores are one indicator that attempts to measure this. But do students really take any notice of NSS scores in making their university choices? Stephen Gibbons shares findings which suggest the effect of changes in NSS scores on demand […]

Without a balance between research and teaching, there will be nothing “higher” about UK education.

There are a surge of rumours circulating over how higher education will be affected by the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review at the end of the November. Responding to the latest suggestions, Martin Eve writes below directly to Jo Johnson, the Minister for Universities and Science. Whilst there are many causes for concern outlined, of particular concern is the emphasis put on teaching at the […]

Literacy as Numbers: The efficacy, merits and validity of transnational literacy assessment programmes.

Debates about the nature of literacy and how to account for the diversity of learning are far from resolved. A new book, Literacy as Numbers, looks at how literacy itself is being reframed around globalized assessment regimes. Camilla Addey delves into how these comparable numbers, now so heavily relied on in national policy, are produced, and how they are shaping our understanding of the meanings and purposes […]