Although this will be the eighth year that Times Higher Education has published a list of the world's top universities, the current rankings methodology was first employed in 2010, with all data and analysis supplied by a new partner, Thomson Reuters.
The methodology was developed over 10 months of open consultation during 2010 and with input from an advisory group of more than 50 leading figures from international higher education. However, the magazine has continued to refine the process and has confirmed a number of improvements for 2011-12.
The rankings will continue to use 13 indicators across five broad areas of activity: teaching, industry income, citations, research and international outlook.
The 2011-12 rankings will employ a new indicator that enhances its "international outlook" category. In this category, as well as looking at the proportion of international staff and students at each institution, the new rankings will also take into account the proportion of research papers published by each institution that are co-authored with at least one international partner.
Another key change this year is the introduction of subject normalisation for a wider range of performance indicators.
"These refinements to the methodology that was established in 2010 make the Times Higher Education World University Rankings even more sophisticated and carefully calibrated to properly reflect the unique structure of each of the universities we look at," said Ann Mroz, editor of THE.
"These rankings give real parity of esteem to the arts, humanities and social sciences, disciplines that are often neglected in such exercises, and also give serious consideration to a university's teaching environment."