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.

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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 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: 20%)
  • 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 2013 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

The Libraries subscribe to InCites: Essential Science Indicators and Thomson Reuters provides fee-based access to a suite of additional 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.

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.

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