Frequently Asked Questions

These Frequently Asked Questions apply to Times Higher Education’s flagship performance analysis and benchmarking platform, THEDataPoints.

For information on our university rankings methodologies, please see the Times Higher Education website:

Q. What tools and data can I access through THEDataPoints? 

THEDataPoints provides access to tools and data to understand your institution’s individual performance based on THE World University Rankings and other data, and to allow you to understand your relative performance based on a comparison with your peers or benchmark sets. 

THEData+ is a toolset that focuses on THE World University Rankings.  It illuminates performance patterns within the sector, giving you insight into potential collaborators or competitors by investigating the actual performance on research, teaching, knowledge transfer and internationalisation metrics in a global context.

The data provided reflects both the data published on the THE website, but also more detailed data examining each of the metrics that underpin performance.

Q. How does Times Higher Education compile the data behind THEDataPoints?

In 2018, the data for THEData+ was drawn from on information from over 1,200 institutions, 67.9 million citations and 14.1 million publications and over 20,000 academic survey responses that form the backbone of the prestigious World University Rankings. This data is submitted via our portal, through the Times Higher Education reputation survey, and the Scopus dataset provided by Elsevier. We clean and transform this data to create the 13 metrics that feed into the 5 pillars of the rankings to give you an accurate and credible picture of your global performance. 

Q. What breadth of the global higher education market is covered by THEDataPoints?

Times Higher Education has expanded its data coverage to include 1,258 institutions for the World University Rankings 2019 (published in September 2018). We are committed to increasing our global view year on year to ensure our data products remain the most complete in the world.

Q. How many benchmark institutions can I select?

The quantity varies with your subscription package, from none up to 25. We can also help you in choosing a benchmark group that is relevant to your needs.

Q. Can I download data from THEData+?

All data included in your subscription is available to download to Microsoft Excel from THEDataPoints 

Q. How can I use THEData+ to assess the differences between my university and my competitors?  

As part of a THEData+ subscription we make available scores and values for both your university and those of your selected peers across the five pillars and the 13 metrics of the THE World University Rankings. With these you can assess the actual difference, not only the distance in scores, in each individual metric, between yourselves and your peers. The data is provided graphically, where appropriate, as well as in tabular form, and can also be downloaded into Microsoft Excel format for your own analysis. 

Q. Some metrics are only given as scores rather than values – can I get access to the scores too?

We exclude some values (such as citation impact, reputation scores) as they don't make any sense by themselves. For example, we don't give out the Publications to Staff value for two reasons:

1. This measure is subject weighted  - we measure this ratio across different subjects, then do a weighted average based on the subject average in order to account for differences in publication rate, thus the value that we use for the score calculation is difficult to interpret in direct comparison to the actual number of papers produced by your institution.

2. The number of publications that we take into consideration depends on the criteria for including publications in both Scopus and our calculations. Thus the value, even at subject level, may vary from internal metrics used by the university.


Q. How is the similarity of my university to my selected peers determined?

When we use Similarity in THEData+ we calculate it directly from the difference between two scores. A lower distance means higher similarity.

Q. What is meant by “user defined groups” and how are they determined?

The user defined groups are universities that themselves nominate to help them understand their performance relative to their peers. However, unlike the benchmark institutions, the university would not see the individual performance data of the members of the target and stretch groups. Instead they will see the distribution of the performance data of the groups e.g. 25% percentile, median, 75% percentile etc. Clients can either choose pre-defined groupings such as the Association of American University, Russell Group etc, or they can hand pick their own groups.

Q. How many users can access my subscription

Again, the number of logins available for your institution will vary according to your subscription level. We can help you think about the number of logins that would be sensible for your purposes.

Q. How is the citation data normalised by subject-area?

In each of the 334 detailed subjects in Scopus, we calculate the average number of citations across the time period (for the relevant paper types). We find each paper that any academic affiliated with university X has written in the time period. For each paper we calculate how the number of citations compares to the average number in that subject. For example if the average number is 20 and this paper has 10 then it scores 0.5.  If it has 25 then it scores 1.25. We average the scores for every paper across the whole university.