The methodology of the global rankings will be broadly preserved and the rankings will continue to use the most comprehensive and balanced performance indicators to evaluate universities across all of their core missions, including research, knowledge transfer, international outlook and – uniquely – the teaching environment. But a series of structural changes will ensure that the THE rankings continue to lead the field for rigour, responsiveness and transparency and provide an ever richer picture of the global higher education and research landscape.
The reforms will provide the platform for further innovation in university performance metrics, with new tools and analytics to capture a wider range of institutional strengths, in a greater range of contexts, against a broader range of missions.
The key change is that all institutional data collection, previously outsourced to Thomson Reuters, will be expanded and will now be brought in-house, carried out by a new, dedicated team of data analysts at THE. The team, in partnership with universities, intends to build the largest and most comprehensive database of university data in the world.
Data, including key information such as an institution’s resources and staff and student profiles, at both the institutional and subject level, will be collected from many hundreds of institutions across the world. The data will be used to underpin the overall THE World University Rankings, as well as supplementary rankings, including the THE 100 Under 50, the THE Asia University Rankings and the THE BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings. It will also be used to develop new analyses, in response to sector demand and consultation, including new rankings and analytical services.
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In a further innovation, research publication data for the rankings will in future be drawn from Elsevier’s Scopus database. Elsevier is a world-leading provider of scientific and technical information, and Scopus is the world’s largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed academic literature. The new data source will allow THE to analyse a deeper range of research activity from a wider range of institutions than at present, including those institutions from emerging economies that account for a growing portion of the world’s research output and which have shown a great hunger for THE’s trusted global performance metrics. THE will also draw on SciVal, Elsevier’s research metrics analysis tool, which will allow continuing innovation in the field of research performance metrics and analysis.
In addition, THE will take responsibility for the administration and ownership of the annual global academic reputation survey, which fuels the ranking and the prestigious annual THE World Reputation Rankings, which was also previously outsourced to Thomson Reuters. In partnership with Elsevier, the THE has today launched the first of the new-look annual global surveys, with the goal of creating the largest survey of its kind, providing the most detailed picture yet of the global reputational standing of our leading universities, judged by those who best understand excellence in teaching and research – leading scholars themselves. Elsevier will help to administer the survey, drawing on its vast global database of leading scholars across all fields of research, but THE will own the data, allowing more of the information to be put in the public domain and for more sophisticated analytical services.
Trevor Barratt, managing director of THE, said: “The THE World University Rankings are already exceptionally influential and our global performance indicators are in demand across the world. We are now entering an exciting new phase in the development of the THE’s gold-standard analyses. Our partnership with Elsevier will ensure that we remain at the forefront of developments and innovations in the evaluation of university performance.”
Nick Fowler, Elsevier’s managing director, research management, said: “We are thrilled to partner with THE: the THE World University Rankings are a global leader in university rankings. They support university and industry leaders in setting strategic priorities and making investment decisions, and they help governments shape national policy. These objectives align with Elsevier’s: with our Research Intelligence portfolio, including Scopus and SciVal, we aim to help universities, funding bodies and governments establish and implement their strategies. We feel privileged to be playing an active role in helping universities calibrate their progress.”