Switzerland’s Ecole Polytech Fédérale Lausanne (in 13th place) is the only university outside America to feature in the top 20 of the ranking, which was devised by the Netherlands’ Leiden University.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology takes top spot in the 2012-13 ranking, with the University of California Santa Barbara in second place, just ahead of Stanford University.
They are followed by Princeton, Harvard and Rice University in Houston, Texas, in the ranking of 500 major international universities published on 17 April.
The highest placed UK university is the University of Cambridge in 24th place, while the University of Oxford is placed at 30th.
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is 33rd, while Imperial College London (41st), the University of St Andrews (47th), the University of Exeter (49th) and University College London (50th) also make the top 50.
Unlike many other rankings, the CWTS Leiden Ranking does not rely on reputation surveys among academics and instead concentrates on scientific output by measuring a university’s research citation scores.
However, a report by the European University Association, titled Global University Rankings and their Impact – Report II, published last week, said there were questions about the overall validity of the ranking as “arts and humanities are not considered at all”.
“Coverage of engineering and social sciences is limited due to the types of publications selected: articles, reviews and letters, but not conference proceedings and/or books,” the report adds.
Nonetheless, the ranking reports how universities outside the US and Europe have become serious players in the sector, not only in the number of publications but also in scientific impact.
For the first time two Chinese universities - Nankai (53rd) and Hunan (55th) - overtake the best universities in the Netherlands in terms of impact (Leiden, 58th, and Utrecht, 60th).
However, Dutch universities perform well in terms of research collaboration with industry, according to the ranking.
EindhovenTechnical University is the university which publishes most intensely in collaboration with companies, with 15.6 per cent of its publications containing a business address.
Delft University, in the south west of the country, and Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology, share the second place with 14 per cent, almost twice the rate of Harvard University, the world’s largest research university, which clocks a score of 7.6 per cent.
CWTS Leiden Ranking results
|2||Univ Calif - Santa Barbara||US|
|7||Univ Calif - Berkeley||US|
|9||Univ Calif - San Francisco||US|
|11||Univ Calif - Santa Cruz||US|
|12||Univ Texas - SW Med Ctr||US|
|13||Ecole Polytech Fédérale Lausanne||Switzerland|
|14||Univ Colorado - Boulder||US|
|15||Univ Calif - San Diego||US|
|20||Univ Massachusetts Med Sch||US|
|21||Carnegie Mellon Univ||US|
|22||Washington Univ - St Louis||US|
|23||Weizmann Inst Sci||Israel|
|25||Univ Calif - Los Angeles||US|
|Univ Washington - Seattle||US|
|31||Icahn Sch Med Mt Sinai||US|
|33||London Sch Hyg & Trop Med||UK|
|34||Georgia Inst Technol||US|
|35||Univ Calif - Riverside||US|
|36||Johns Hopkins Univ||US|
|38||Univ N Carolina - Chapel Hill||US|
|39||Univ Texas - Austin||US|
|41||Imperial Coll London||UK|
|42||Univ Massachusetts - Amherst||US|
|44||Univ Calif - Irvine||US|
|45||Tech Univ Denmark||Denmark|
|47||Univ St Andrews||UK|
|48||Univ Dublin Trinity Coll||Ireland|
|50||Univ Coll London||UK|