Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

University ranking systems seriously flawed

25.10.2007
Thousands of high school students are currently deliberating over which university to attend next year. But which are the best? A study published in the open access journal BMC Medicine warns against using international rankings of universities to answer this question. They are misleading and should be abandoned, the study concludes.

The study focuses on the published 2006 rankings of The Times Higher Education Supplement "World University Rankings" and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University "Academic Ranking of World Universities". It found that only 133 institutions were shared between the top-200 lists of the Shanghai and Times rankings; four of the top-50 in the Shanghai list did not even appear among the first 500 universities of the Times ranking.

The study's authors argue that such discrepancies stem from poor methodology and inappropriate indicators, making the ranking systems invalid.

The Shanghai system, for example, measures research excellence in part by the number of Nobel- and Fields-winning alumni at the institution. However, few universities boast laureates on their staff, and their presence does not necessarily lead to better undergraduate education. Furthermore, the prize-winning staff usually have performed their ground-breaking work at another institution, so the measurement really addresses the ability of institutions to attract prestigious awardees rather than being the site where ground-breaking work is done.

The Times ranking, on the other hand, places great emphasis on the results of a survey sent out to more than 190,000 researchers. They are asked to list what they think are the top 30 universities in their field of research. Yet this survey is entirely opinion-based, and with a response rate below 1% may contain significant bias.

"There are flaws in the way that almost every indicator is used to compile these two popular rankings," says John Ioannidis, who led the analysis team. "I don't disagree that excellence is important to define, measure, interpret and improve, but the existing ranking criteria could actually harm science and education."

The study authors call for global collaboration to standardise data on key aspects of universities and other institutions, and any flaws should be openly admitted and not underestimated. "Evaluation exercises should not force spurious averages and oversimplified rankings for the many faces of excellence," says Ioannidis. "And efforts to improve institutions should not focus just on the numbers being watched."

Charlotte Webber | alfa
Further information:
http://www.biomedcentral.com

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Amputees can learn to control a robotic arm with their minds
28.11.2017 | University of Chicago Medical Center

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>