Friday, July 23, 2010

"ranking web of world universities"

A research group in Spain has produced a ranking of world universities in terms of the scholarly value of their websites. This is a massive complication of objective data on 20,000 universities by the Cybermetrics Lab of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Spain. Thiey describe their objectives as follows:

"The original aim of the Ranking was to promote Web publication. Supporting Open Access initiatives, electronic access to scientific publications and to other academic material are our primary targets. However web indicators are very useful for ranking purposes too as they are not based on number of visits or page design but on the global performance and visibility of the universities."

What I like about this ranking is that it is based on scholarly value: numbers of pages, numbers of papers and reports posted, and the external links to such. Features such as institutional repositories, online journals, web databases, etc. contribute heavily to the rankings. Here is an outline of their measures:
Four indicators were obtained from the quantitative results provided by the main search engines as follows:
Size (S). Number of pages recovered from four engines: Google, Yahoo, Live Search and Exalead.
Visibility (V). The total number of unique external links received (inlinks) by a site can be only confidently obtained from Yahoo Search.
Rich Files (R). After evaluation of their relevance to academic and publication activities and considering the volume of the different file formats, the following were selected: Adobe Acrobat (.pdf), Adobe PostScript (.ps), Microsoft Word (.doc) and Microsoft Powerpoint (.ppt). These data were extracted using Google, Yahoo Search, Live Search and Exalead.
Scholar (Sc). Google Scholar provides the number of papers and citations for each academic domain. These results from the Scholar database represent papers, reports and other academic items.
The four ranks were combined according to a formula where each one has a different weight but maintaining the ratio 1:1:


My university, ASU, has a lower ranking than I'd like (#56 worldwide). It is held down, for one thing, by a very poor score on the Google Scholar index, which looks like a good measure of academic papers posted online. If we had an institutional repository, even one below the university level (such as at the level of my school......), this would help. It would raise the university's score, but more importantly it would contribute to the broader missions of scholarship and access to scholarship. These are missions that transcend the university and quantitative rankings, and they are among the missions that motivate this blog.

Post your peer-reviewed papers (see my past entires listed under "self-archiving"), urge your colleagues and students to do this, and urge your institutions to adopt enlightened policies of self-archiving and open access.

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