Harvard shows it has winning in the genes

March 4, 2005

The fifth and last of the faculty-specific analyses - biomedicine - that make up The Times Higher World University Rankings agrees with our overall finding (November 5, 2004) that Harvard is the world's top university. Our peer reviewers also put Harvard in pole position in the social sciences and in arts and humanities.

Only in science, where Harvard is in third place behind Cambridge and Oxford universities, and in engineering and information technology, where it trails at 13 in a field led by the University of California, Berkeley, does Harvard fail to come first.

With 9,000 staff and research income of $406 million (£212 million), Harvard Medical School's reputation among our panel of 1,300 peer reviewers around the world is no surprise. What is surprising is that its most recent Nobel prize was won in 1990.

The peer review score, compiled by QuacquarelliSymonds (QS), is accompanied by a listing derived from the Thomson Scientific Essential Scientific Indicators database of performance in generating highly cited papers in scientific literature in all areas of medical research, including clinical medicine, pharmacology, psychology, neuroscience and genetics.

It shows that Harvard's medical researchers are among the most highly cited, but are beaten in this category by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology, Princeton University and Berkeley. But Harvard produced many more papers - 56,000 in the period surveyed, from 1994 to 2003 - than any of these.

The ferocious publishing and citation culture of biomedical research means that papers in this field have far more citations than those in other fields. The average number of citations for a Harvard social science paper is 9.53, compared with 32.2 for medicine.

This table, more than any other in the rankings, favours the US because of its huge health research budgets and its use of English for publishing. It dominates the list with 29 entries. Behind it is the UK with ten, including Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London in second, third and fourth.

The top 101 institutions are in 24 countries including Brazil and Turkey. The top institution outside the English-speaking world is Sweden's Karolinska Institute. Peer reviewers also rated universities in countries such as China highly even though they have yet to produce papers that feature in the Thomson Scientific database.

* Governments, private laboratories and the pharmaceutical industry are powerful producers of highly cited medical research.

The accompanying tables show that Genentech, leader of the Californian biotechnology boom, is ahead of older "big pharma" competitors in the citations stakes and has a score comparable to a top US research university. The institutes table is dominated by US hospitals, government laboratories and private foundations.

The Times Higher World University Rankings will return in autumn. Tables compiled by Martin Ince (martin@ martinince.com), contributing editor.

Thanks to Nunzio Quacquarelli of QS (www.qsnetwork. com), Jonathan Adams of Evidence Ltd (www.evidence. co.uk) and colleagues. World rankings: www.thes.co.uk/statistics/international _comparisons/2004/main.aspx


LINK TO TABLES IN THE STATISTICS  SECTION

World's top 100 universities in biomedicine
Top biomedicine research companies  
Top biomedicine research institutes

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