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 Some brain tumors may respond to immunotherapy, new study suggests
11.12.2018 | Columbia University Irving Medical Center

nachricht Climate change and air pollution damaging health and causing millions of premature deaths
30.11.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

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: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>