Institution/University Impact Measures

In ranking an institution, a level of ambiguity must be embraced because many different metrics are used to make comparisons. A variety of ranking models are created by various organizations for use by a wide spectrum of audiences. Some models do not measure research output.

On this page:

Academic Ranking of World Universities

The rankings of more than 1000 universities are published annually in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) by the Center for World-Class Universities and the Institute of Higher Education of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. Indicators include:

  • quality of education—the number of alumni receiving a Nobel Prize or Fields Medal weighted by decade (weight: 10%)
  • quality of faculty—the number of staff with a Nobel Prize or Fields Medal awarded while working at the institution (weight: 10%)
  • highly cited researchers (weight: 20%)
  • research output—the number of articles published in Nature and Science during a prescribed period, weighted by author position (weight: 20%)
  • number of articles in the Science-Citation Index (weight: 20%)
  • academic performance with respect to the size of the institution—given as the weighted scores of the indicators divided by the number of full-time equivalent academic staff (weight 10%).

The Top American Research Universities Annual Report

The Center for Measuring University Performance focuses on major US research universities and the incentive and rewards systems that lead to improved university performance. Their most recent publication is The Top American Research Universities 2012 Annual Report.

The National Research Council Assessment

Approximately every 10 years, the National Research Council (NRC), part of the National Academies, assesses US-based research-doctorate programs to improve the quality of doctoral programs through benchmarking. This provides potential students and the public with information to enhance the nation's overall research capacity.

The most current assessment, conducted in 2006/7 was released on Sept. 28, 2010. Almost 5,000 programs in 62 fields at 212 institutions participated.

Institutional Citation Reports

Thomson Reuters provides access to a suite of Research Evaluation Tools, including Institutional Citation Reports which can be used to measure research output at the institutional level. Other tools may help users to determine influential individuals within institutions, and institutions that are impacting a multitude of fields of study. Importantly this tool also serves to gauge emerging areas, a hot topic at all research organizations.

Essential Science Indicators

Another Thomson Reuters tool, Essential Science Indicators, measures productivity and impact of an institution. This tool counts only those citations indexed by Web of Knowledge and only searches at the institution or broad discipline level. To learn how to use this tool see Essential Science Indicator’s short tutorial (note, the University of Minnesota is represented by “UNIV MINNESOTA” when searching by institution).

University of Minnesota Provost Office Reports

At the University of Minnesota, the Academic Affairs and Provost's office reports a number of ranking tools. A variety of data is presented to assist users to determine the University’s ranking in a number of areas.

US News & World Report Rankings

The US News & World Report Rankings is a well-known ranking of universities by discipline, but actual research measures are not part of their ranking criteria.

The Future of Institutional Research Ranking

As national research networks continue to be established, cross-institutional identification of research expertise and impact will shape how a researcher ranks other institutions and investigators. Tools like VIVO and Harvard Catalyst Profiles will shape the way collaborations are made.

The University of Minnesota has taken part in the nation’s first aggregated searches across multi-institutional researching networks which include Profiles and VIVO. Initial results show that how one views the impact of an institution or its component researchers is highly dependent upon the data that are being retrieved, the philosophy of the institution, and the needs of the searcher. This networking phenomenon will most certainly democratize many aspects of research which were once controlled by metrics like impact factors and rankings.

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