The university rankings season has commenced

It seems odd to talk about a university rankings season, but the season of the new rankings starts normally in August when the Shanghai ranking are published. There was actually no real news in the 2015 Shanghai ranking. This year VU University gained two places in the overall ranking, from 100 to 98. Small steps, but that is not strange. A major criticism at the beginning of the university rankings was the wild fluctuation of universities between years. So rankings have improved over the years, and became more stable.

The ranking season will continue with the release of the QS ranking, or top universities, on September 15th, followed by the THE World Univeristy Ranking on September 30th. It will be interesting to see if the US News best global university ranking will be released towards the end of October again. So four major global university rankings will be released in the time span of about 3 months. This year the THE ranking deserves special attention since they have changed from data providers, switching from Thomson Reuters Web of Science data to Elsevier’s Scopus, and are adapting their methodology more than the competition. The second one to watch is the US News ranking, simply because it is the second time they will be published, and it is interesting to judge the stability of this ranking.

Wasn’t there any interesting news in the Shanghai ranking?
For the careful watchers the Netherlands has now 6 universities in the top 100 of the so called alternative ranking, and VU University is the leading Dutch University at place 57.

Google Scholar profiles of Dutch Universities

Early July I checked the Google Scholar uptake at Dutch Universities. Whilst collecting the data I also noted the total number of citations for each tenth scientist with a Google Scholar profile per university. To make sense of the results I plotted them as logarithmic values against rank number of the researcher when ordered on descending total number of citations.

Total number of citations per researcher according to Google Scholar
Total number of citations per researcher according to Google Scholar

Due to the uneven uptake of Google Scholar profiles per university it is too early to draw any firm conclusions on these profiles. But at face values three groups can be distinguished: Delft, Utrecht, Wageningen, UvA, RUG and VU showing very similar profiles. The middle group with Twente, Radboud Nijmegen, Eindhoven, Erasmus Rotterdam and Leiden University. Maastricht, Tilburg and the Open University close the ranks.

Looking carefully at the leading group. Utrecht has the most researchers high number of tatal citations. Wageningen takes over from around the total citations of 500 per researchers and Delft from around 150 total citations per researcher.

I can imagine when Google Scholar profiles become more established, these kind of graphs can be used in yeat another university ranking. The number of total citations under the graphs gives some indication of the publication success of the university staff at those universities.

Full data set is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1528155