Next Friday the Times Higher Education Supplement will publish it’s famous rankings for world universities . This year they have changed the methodology quite a bit. Perhaps to counter some of the criticism on these rankings as formulated in the Wikipedia. They have made changes to the peer review, which counts for 40% in the overall ranking, and prevented the possibility of self selection of own universities by peers. They have changed the database from which they retrieve the citation data. They have selected Scopus from Elsevier above citation data from ISI (The Essential Science Indicators from Thomson Scientific that is). They have reduced the citation frame period, from ten to five years. They have attempted to make a difference between full time equivalents and number of faculty and finally they have normalized the rankings.
There are two items I like to pick out. They have selected Scopus over ESI. Quite a change. This will be less disadvantageous for countries with a strong publication culture in their own language. Think about France, Germany and all Spanish language countries, or perhaps Chinese, Japanse or Korean. The other aspect is the citation frame. I encourage a five year period over a 10 year period, but they only look at “the most recent complete 5 year window” , i.e. 2002-2006. Whereas I would prefer the period of 2001-2005 or even better 2000-2004, so all publications will have received their fair share of citations.
Meanwhile we remain, and wait for Friday to see how all these changes will affect these popular rankings.
Sowter, B. (2007) THES – QS World University Rankings 2007. QS TopUniversities. http://www.topuniversities.com/news/article/thes_qs_world_university_rankings_2007_basic_explanation_of_key_enhancements_in_methodology_for_2/