THE World University Rankings

Times Higher Education regularly writes about the effects of bureaucracy on the academy - quality assurance, research assessment, grant applications and the demands of quangos and other "stakeholders".

May 6, 2010

However, we are aware that we are adding to that bureaucratic burden through our World University Rankings data supplier, Thomson Reuters.

Right now, some 600 universities around the world are being asked to submit to us a range of information on student and staff numbers, research income and the like to ensure that they take their place in the 2010 rankings. I'm delighted to say that the data are flowing in, which will underpin the most comprehensive, rigorous and transparent rankings we have ever published.

But we have also taken steps to ease the pain of our request. Our data-collection tool, translated into multiple languages, was tested for "usability" by our platform group of university heads. Thomson Reuters has also employed three full-time data editors responsible for three broad geographical regions: Europe, Middle East and Africa; the Americas; and Asia-Pacific. There is also a full-time project manager for the UK.

The members of this dedicated team, stationed in the region they are responsible for, will be on hand to offer help to institutions. There is also a tutorial and a "frequently asked questions" section online, plus a guidebook that clarifies the definitions of each data set. Most importantly, universities have options as to how much data they provide.

Simon Pratt, project manager for institutional research at Thomson Reuters, said: "We're asking for a wide range of data to help generate informative profiles. However, there is a huge amount of flexibility and the minimum requirement is manageable."

Phil Baty is editor, Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

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