Methodology of International University Rankings



International ranking of universities was ignited in 2003 by the start of Shanghai Ranking (ARWU). In facing with the diversity of criteria and methodologies of rankings, different stakeholders including higher education authorities need to have a valid interpretation of rankings’ results and limitations. The pillars studied for the seven selected rankings were: if a ranking’s mission is commercial or not, and if educational or research-oriented; if the target population is all universities or just top ones, or just research universities, and to what extent; if the criteria cover all five missions of an exemplar university, i.e. education, research, industry relations, internal and international scientific collaboration, and international students and faculty; if the data used are of bibliometric type (ISI or Scopus databases or else), of survey type, self-reported, or other secondary sources; are rises and falls due to methodologic changes separable from a university performance changes in a trend analysis; the format of results presentation; and availability and openness of final results, raw data and methodology including normalization details. Answering the aforementioned questions helps to reach more integrated picture of universities by understanding limitations and distinct features of each ranking.