Old masters not alone in the arts landscape

February 4, 2005

In the Top 50, left, are the institutions our peer-review college regards as the best in the world at arts and humanities research.

Uniquely among the data presented in this series, we do not show a separate listing for the citations impact of research papers in this area. Although Thomson Scientific, supplier of the citations data for the World University Rankings, runs an Arts and Humanities Citations Index, top researchers in the field are far less likely to use internationally cited journals as the main route for their research, and journal citation has less status in this area than any other.

In some areas, such as Middle Eastern and African studies, fewer than 20 per cent of papers submitted by UK institutions to the 2001 research assessment exercise were published in journals covered by the Thomson indices. Organisations including the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Board are seeking better ways of assessing the impact of the research they fund, and The Times Higher hopes to make use of these new metrics in future issues.

Because of the comparatively small number of peer reviewers in the arts and humanities, we have decided to publish only the top 50 institutions they name to ensure that the whole table includes universities for which there is a statistically valid response.

The overall message of this table is clear: the world's top university for the arts and humanities is Harvard by a wide margin. But the lower places are fiercely contested. Oxford University is in second place, narrowly ahead of the University of California, Berkeley. Yale University beats Cambridge University in a close contest between fourth and fifth.

The research shows that the top 50 arts and humanities universities are in 19 countries. The US and the UK dominate, with 18 and nine institutions respectively. Beyond these two, excellence seems to be widespread. No other country has more than a couple of universities in our top 50.

It might seem at first sight that the experts regard Western Europe as the heartland of the arts and humanities. Besides the UK, they singled out a university each from Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway, France, Italy, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.

But five Australasian countries - Australia, China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore - enter the table with two entries each. Beijing and Tokyo at seven and nine are the first to break the dominance of Anglophone institutions, ahead of universities in continental Europe.

In addition, Unam in Mexico appears here, as it did in our overall World University Rankings, as the only institution outside Europe, Asia and North America to be regarded as a world leader. It is in 25th position.

Full tables here:

World's top arts and humanities universities  
World's top social science universities  
World's top non-universities in social science  

* These tables were compiled by Martin Ince (martin@martinince.com), contributing editor of The Times Higher . Thanks are due to Nunzio Quacquarelli of QS ( www.qsnetwork.com ), Jonathan Adams of Evidence Ltd ( www.evidence.co.uk ) and colleagues. World University Rankings 2004 can be found at http:///www.thes.co.uk/statistics/international_compariso...

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