Popular opinion: THE calls and the world answers

Targeted global scholars respond in droves to Academic Reputation Survey. Phil Baty reports

June 17, 2010



The informed views of more than 13,000 academics from across the world will be used to help determine the 2010 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, it was revealed this week.

Thomson Reuters, the exclusive data supplier for the rankings, confirmed that 13,388 people had responded to its Academic Reputation Survey, which was launched in March and has now closed for the 2010 tables.

This volume makes the reputational survey the largest exercise of its kind undertaken in the six-year history of THE's rankings.

"It is an excellent response in terms of volume," said Ann Mroz, editor of THE. "But it is not just size that matters. The respondents were carefully targeted as experienced scholars by an invitation-only survey to ensure they are representative of their region and subject areas.

"We have a very high-quality sample that is much more representative and rigorous than anything the rankings have used before."

The largest proportion of respondents, 38 per cent, are from the Americas. Some 30.2 per cent hail from Asia Pacific and the Middle East, with 28.3 per cent from Europe. Most respondents (23 per cent) work in engineering and technology, followed by the physical sciences (21 per cent). Some 18 per cent work in the social sciences.

The survey gathered opinions on the standard of both research and teaching, meaning that the 2010 rankings will include the first worldwide reputation-based indicator of teaching quality.

When asked which activity takes up most of their time in their current role, 54 per cent of respondents say research while 31 per cent say teaching.

THE announced in November 2009 that it would no longer use data supplied by QS for the rankings, and that it would develop a new methodology.

Under the old methodology, reputational measures were worth 50 per cent of universities' final scores. Under current plans, the survey results will account for 20 per cent.

phil.baty@tsleducation.com.

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