Rankings update: Reputations on the line as survey nears closing date

Ambitious initiative will inform the 2011-12 THE World University Rankings. Phil Baty reports

May 5, 2011

The world's largest survey of university reputations, which will inform the 2011-12 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, will close on 20 May.

Tens of thousands of academics around the world are being invited to represent their country and academic discipline in the most comprehensive and ambitious attempt to date to gauge university reputations for both research and teaching.

Thomson Reuters, which provides data for both the World University Rankings and the World Reputation Rankings, this week confirmed the date the poll will close. It also offered an analysis of the interim results.

Simon Pratt, project manager for institutional research at Thomson Reuters, said: "We are delighted with the volume of responses to date and with the regional distribution and academic background of the respondents.

"Not only is this a truly international survey, it also reflects the opinions of experienced academics, with 90 per cent of the respondents so far identifying their role as either academic or research staff or senior institutional leaders.

"Respondents to date have an average of 18 years of experience. These factors will contribute to a very robust survey and improved insights for the reputational standing of institutions worldwide," he said.

The survey is available in nine languages: Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Brazilian and European Portuguese, English and, for the first time this year, Arabic.

So far, the greatest number of responses has come from North America, at 39 per cent of all submissions, followed by Western Europe (16 per cent) and East Asia (9 per cent).

The interim results indicate that most respondents thus far are from the social sciences, accounting for 21 per cent of all responses, with 19 per cent in engineering and 18 per cent in physical sciences.

Ann Mroz, editor of Times Higher Education, said: "This is an invitation-only survey, so anyone who receives an email from us has been chosen as statistically representative of their field and their region. We urge all those who are invited to help us build the most detailed and comprehensive picture possible."

Last year's survey attracted 13,388 responses from academics in 131 countries.

• Thomson Reuters is also collecting institutional data for its Global Institutional Profiles Project, which provides all the data used to compile the World University Rankings. The deadline for new institutions to join the project is 13 May. (For details, see http://bit.ly/4XB0ST.)

Mr Pratt said: "We are aiming to profile the top institutions in the world. Typically they will have a world-class reputation, a full spectrum of educational activity from undergraduate programmes to doctoral programmes, and a significant research base."

phil.baty@tsleducation.com.

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