04 October 2012

Different Rankings of World Universities

Times Higher Education just released its World University Rankings. Compared to other world university rankings such as the QS World University Rankings and the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities, there are a few surprises.

Here is more on how the Times rankings have changed from year to year.

As we discovered previously, such rankings are critically dependent upon their methodologies. In the Times rankings, for example, two different methodologies were employed, which generated two somewhat different rankings.

Going by their best methodology, the Times ranking places the California Institute of Technology, CIT, at the top. Going by academic reputation alone, the Times places Harvard at the top and CIT at #11. That is a 10 position swing, which is fairly significant at such high levels of rank.

We confronted this issue before, when we discovered that the QS World University Rankings methodology was heavily weighted toward academic reputation. The Shanghai rankings methodology utilises a more balanced methodology, similar to the Times rankings.

These differences in rankings illustrate the importance of statistical methodologies. Methodology is important not only in academic rankings, of course, but also in opinion polls, scientific research studies, marketing research, and any other application where numbers are being manipulated for the purpose of drawing a conclusion about the real world.


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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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