In an editorial in Current Science, P. Balaram observed that “rankings and ratings enter every sphere of human activity” (1) and even went so far as to compare institutional rankings to a “beauty contest”. With the publication of The THES-QS World University Rankings on November 9, the winners of the 2007 beauty contest were announced.

The Times Higher Education Supplement (THES), a London-based weekly newspaper that reports specifically on higher education issues, has published its World University Rankings annually since 2004. It works closely with Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a leading independent network for higher education and related careers that acts as its research and data analysis arm.

Switch to Scopus

For the first time, the data used to compile the World University Rankings have come from Scopus. “As our own methodology developed and improved, we felt we needed a more comprehensive data source,” explains Ben Sowter, QS’ Head of Research. “We chose Scopus for several reasons: the quality of the data, which will provide enhanced transparency and clarity for the rankings; strong journal representation outside the United States; and more non-English content than other databases. We believe that the strong data found in Scopus, combined with other enhancements we’ve made to our methodology, will help stabilize rankings, making them more effective for tracking year-on-year performance. They will also result in a more robust and balanced measure of comparative international university quality.”

In addition to the switch to Scopus for citation data, the key enhancements to QS’ methodology are:

  • Z-score aggregation of indicators to generate overall scores
  • Peer reviewers prevented from promoting their own university
  • Consistent usage of Full-time Equivalent (FTE) data for all personnel-related data

For more information on the effect these changes will have on the data and thus the rankings, please click here.

Assessment indicators

Institutions are assessed on six indicators that carry different weightings. These indicators are based on what THES considers the template of a world-class university:Research quality (peer review 40%, citations per faculty 20%)

Graduate employability (recruiter review 10%)

International outlook (international faculty 5%, international students 5%)

Teaching quality (student faculty 20%)


(1) Balaram, P. (2004) “The Shanghai Rankings”, Current Science, Vol. 86, No. 10
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