The expert opinion of more than 17,500 academics from 137 countries will be used to inform the 2011-12 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, it was confirmed this week.
Thomson Reuters, the rankings' data supplier, confirmed that 17,554 scholars had responded to its 2011 Academic Reputation Survey, which was launched in March and has now closed. This represents a 31 per cent increase on the 2010 figures.
No one who responded last year was invited to take part in the 2011 survey. This means that almost 31,000 academics from 149 countries have engaged with the poll in its first two years, making it the largest of its kind ever completed.
"The survey is an ambitious undertaking and we are pleased with the response rate," said Jonathan Adams, director of research evaluation at Thomson Reuters.
The poll was invitation only, with academics targeted to be statistically representative of both their geographical region and scholarly discipline. They were questioned about their narrow fields of expertise and asked to respond based on their direct experiences.
In 2011, some 44 per cent of respondents were from the Americas, 28 per cent from Europe and 25 per cent from Asia Pacific and the Middle East.
Ninety per cent described their role as an academic, member of research staff or institutional leader.
Respondents had spent an average of 16 years in the academy.
As well as being used in the THE rankings, the responses will also form part of the Thomson Reuters Global Institutional Profiles product, which will allow detailed comparative profiling of hundreds of universities worldwide.