How the Best Global Universities Rankings were Determined by U.S. News

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How the Best Global Universities Rankings were Determined by U.S. News

Learn how U.S. News decided the top universities in the world overall, as well as by area and country.

The eighth annual US News & World Report Best Global Institutions rankings were created to show how universities around the world compare. Because an increasing number of students intend to study at universities outside of their home country, the Best Global Universities rankings – which focus solely on schools' academic research and reputation as a whole, rather than their individual undergraduate or graduate programmes – can assist those applicants in making accurate comparisons between institutions around the world.

The Best Global Universities rankings also show how U.S. universities, which have been ranked independently by U.S. News for nearly 40 years, rank abroad. All universities can compare themselves to schools in their own country and region, increase their global visibility, and identify top institutions in other countries with whom to collaborate.


The total Best Global Universities list now includes 1,750 outstanding universities from more than 90 countries, up from nearly 1,500 last year. The initial stage in developing these ClarivateTM-powered rankings was to create a pool of 1,849 institutions from which the top 1,750 schools were ranked.


U.S. News initially included the top 250 universities in the results of Clarivate's global reputation study, which is discussed further below, to form the pool of 1,849 universities. After that, U.S. News included any other institutions that had published at least 1,250 papers between 2015 and 2019. This year's paper barrier is the same as last year's. These two criteria resulted in a final ranking pool of 1,849 colleges in 2022, from which U.S. News ranks the top 1,750 universities in the overall ranking.


Many stand-alone graduate institutions, such as Rockefeller University in New York and the University of California—San Francisco, were eligible to be ranked and were included in the ranking universe as a result of these requirements.


The rankings were then calculated using the 13 variables and weights chosen by U.S. News to assess global research performance.


The total global score as well as numerical ranks for the 13 indicators are listed on each school's profile page on usnews.com, allowing students to compare each school's performance in each area.


In the table below, the indications and their weights in the ranking method are listed, with relevant indicators grouped together; an explanation follows for each.


RANKING INDICATOR WEIGHT

Global research reputation 12.5%

Regional research reputation 12.5%

Publications 10%

Books 2.5%

Conferences 2.5%

Normalized citation impact 10%

Total citations 7.5%

Number of publications that are among the 10% most cited 12.5%

Percentage of total publications that are among the 10% most cited


  10%

International collaboration – relative to country 5%

International collaboration 5%

Number of highly cited papers that are among the top 1% most cited in their respective field 5%

Percentage of total publications that are among the top 1% most highly cited papers 5%

Reputation Indicators

The two reputation indices utilised in U.S. News' ranking analysis were created using data from Clarivate's Academic Reputation Survey, which was compiled during the last five years, from 2017 to 2021.


Respondents were invited to express their judgments on programmes in subjects with which they were familiar as part of the survey, which attempted to create a complete snapshot of academics' perceptions about international institutions. Respondents were able to rank institutions at the field and department level rather than the institution level, resulting in a more precise and accurate assessment of a university's overall reputation.


Clarivate took attempts to overcome linguistic bias, varying response rates, and the geographic distribution of researchers in order to adequately represent all regions.


These steps were as follows:

Sending an invitation-only survey to academics from Clarivate's published research databases, based on predicted geographic proportions of academics and researchers around the world.

Accessibility is available in seven languages.

To counteract differential response rates, rebalancing the survey's final results based on the regional distribution of researchers.


Excluding nominations of respondents' own institution or alma mater.

Respondents also self-identified their occupation:


66% academic staff.

14% research staff.

7% senior institutional leaders.

5% graduate/postgraduate students.

4% other jobs and roles.

3% not currently working at a higher education institution.

2% teaching staff.

2% other positions.

1% management and administrative.

The total number of respondents was 26,660 broken down by year:


2017: 4,000.

2018: 4,960.

2019: 6,300.

2020: 7,700.

2021: 3,700.


The findings of the poll were utilised to create two independent ranking indicators, as shown below.


Global research reputation (12.5 percent): This indicator is based on the findings of the Academic Reputation Survey for the greatest universities in the world for research over the last five years.


Regional research reputation (12.5 percent): This indicator is based on the findings of the Academic Reputation Survey for the finest universities for research in the region over the last five years; regions were defined using the United Nations concept.


Because it focused on gauging academics' evaluations of other universities within their region, this regional factor considerably expanded the international variety of the rankings. This indicator is solely used in the U.S. News rankings, and it will be included for the eighth year in the 2022 edition.


Bibliometric Indicators

The bibliometric factors utilised in the ranking study by U.S. News are based on Clarivate's Web of ScienceTM data for the five-year period from 2015 to 2019. The Web of Science is a web-based research platform that includes approximately 21,100 of the most significant and authoritative scholarly journals in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities from across the world.

Publications (10%): This is a measure of a university's overall research productivity, based on the total number of scholarly publications – reviews, articles, and notes – with university affiliations that are published in high-quality, impactful journals. This metric is inextricably tied to the size of the university. It's also influenced by the university's subject specialisation, because some disciplines, such as medicine, publish more than others.

Books (2.5%): Books are a key medium for scholarly research, especially in the social sciences, arts, and humanities. The ranking indicator complements the data from articles and better depicts universities that specialise in social sciences, arts, and humanities.

Academic conferences (2.5 percent): Academic conferences are an essential venue for scholarly communication, especially in engineering and computer science subjects. Conference proceedings can contain genuine research advances in specific domains that may not have been documented or published elsewhere.


Impact of normalised citations (10%): The total number of citations per paper shows the university's overall impact on research and is unaffected by its size or age; the value is normalised to account for variances in study area, publication year, and publication type.

NCI is a key measure of research performance that is utilised by a variety of research evaluation bodies throughout the world.

Clarivate, which helps institutions analyse research output, performance, and trends; grasp the scope of an organization's intellectual contributions; and define conclusions to drive research objectives, provided the subject fields used in the analysis. Clarivate makes advantage of the Web of Science's content and citation indicators.


Total citations (7.5 percent): This metric measures the university's impact on the global research community. It's calculated by multiplying the normalised citation impact factor by the publications ranking factor. To account for variances in study area, paper publishing year, and publication type, total citations have been standardised.

The following are the publications that are among the top 10% most cited (12.5%):

This metric indicates the number of publications that have been assigned to the top 10% of the world's most highly referenced papers in their respective categories.

Each paper is assigned a percentile score that indicates where it ranks in terms of citation rank when compared to other papers of the same year, subject, and document format.

The indicator can be considered a reliable predictor of how much good research the university does because the number of highly cited publications is reliant on the university's size.

The percentage of total publications that are among the top 10% most referenced (10%) is as follows:

This metric measures the percentage of a university's total articles that rank in the top 10% of the world's most cited papers - by field and publication year. It is a metric that measures how much good research a university does, regardless of its size.


International partnership – as a percentage of GDP (5%): This statistic is calculated by dividing the proportion of total articles with international co-authors at the institution by the proportion of internationally co-authored papers for the country in which the university is located. It demonstrates how worldwide the research papers are in comparison to the country where the university is located. Because only the best research attracts international collaborators, international collaborative articles are seen as a sign of excellence.

International collaboration (5%): This statistic is a measure of quality that shows what percentage of the institution's total articles have international co-authors.

Indicators of Scientific Excellence

Number of highly cited publications in their respective subject that are among the top 1% most cited (5%): The volume of publications identified as highly cited in Clarivate's Essential Science IndicatorsTM service is represented by this highly cited papers indicator. The top 1% of papers in each of the 22 broad disciplines included in the Web of Science are highly cited in ESI each year. They're based on the last ten years' worth of publications.

Highly cited publications are seen as markers of scientific brilliance and high performance, and they can be used to compare research performance to industry benchmarks around the world. This is a measurement that is affected by the size of the object.

Percentage of total publications that are among the top 1% most cited papers (5% of total publications): This percent of highly cited papers represents the number of highly referenced papers produced by a university as a percentage of the total number of documents it produces. It's a metric of quality that reveals what percentage of a university's production is among the most influential articles in the world. This is a metric that isn't affected by the size of the sample.

How the Overall Global Scores and Numerical Rankings Were Calculated


The overall global scores for each of the 13 factors considered in the rankings were computed using a combination of weights and z-scores to arrive at a school's rank. A z-score is a normalised score in statistics that reflects how many standard deviations a data point deviates from the variable's mean. When merging many types of data into a single ranking, this data transformation is necessary since it allows for fair comparisons between the various types of data.

Because several of the indicators were substantially skewed, the original data were logarithmically transformed. These were the indicators:

  • Publications.
  • Books.
  • Conferences.
  • Total citations.
  • Number of publications that are among the 10% most cited.
  • Global research reputation.
  • Regional research reputation.
  • Number of highly cited papers that are among the top 1% most cited in their respective field.
  • International collaboration.
  • International collaboration – relative to country.
The data was rescaled using the logarithmic transformation, which resulted in a more standardised and homogeneous distribution among indicators. Following the normalisation of these ten indicators, the z-scores for each indicator were generated to standardise the various forms of data to a similar scale.

The obtained z-scores for each of the 13 indicators were then weighted using the prescribed weights outlined above to arrive at a school's overall global score. The weights were set by U.S. News in conjunction with bibliometric specialists and based on our assessment of the relative importance of the ranking elements.

Each school's overall global score was derived by adding the weighted values for each indicator. The lowest possible score was determined by subtracting the least score from the pool of 1,849 institutions from each of the scores.

After that, the scores were rescaled by multiplying the ratio between each university's total performance and the highest-performing university by 100. As a result, the results were scaled from 0 to 100, with the highest-performing school receiving a global score of 100.

Based on their weighted, rescaled overall worldwide score, the 1,750 top colleges out of the 1,849 ranked were then ranked in descending order from 1 to 1,750. To improve diversity between scores and reduce the possibility of ties, each school's aggregate global score was rounded to one decimal place.

In addition, based on their z-score for each ranking indicator, the 1,849 universities were assigned a numerical rank for each of the 13 ranking indicators — such as publications, total citations, and global research repute. Except for regional research reputation, the highest-scoring university for each of the 13 categories received a score of 1, and the lowest-scoring university received a rank of 1,849. Ties were permitted.

The numerical ranking of regional research reputation is based on the schools in each of the six United Nations regions. Africa, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Europe, Latin America, and North America are the six regions. This means there are six No. 1 schools in the regional reputation numerical rating, one for each region in the overall ranking. This ranking allows visitors to compare colleges and see which ones have the best research reputation in their area.

As previously stated, usnews.com publishes the numerical rankings for each of the 13 indicators. Certain ranking metrics place some schools in the top 1,750 universities ranking in the 1,751 to 1,849 range. Each ranking indicator's numerical ranks are to be utilised to determine each school's relative position within that indicator. The overall global score was not calculated using the numerical indicator ranks.

Data Collection and Missing Data


Clarivate provided the data and metrics utilised in the ranking. The Web of Science was used to compile the bibliometric data.

Papers must have been published between 2015 and 2019. Citations to such studies, on the other hand, are drawn from all publications up to the most recent data available. This cutoff date was April 29, 2021, with an InCitesTM publication date of May 30, 2021, for the Best Global Universities 2022 edition, which will be published on October 26, 2021. To allow citations to build and offer statistically significant data, an older window of publication must be used.

The Clarivate subject schemas were utilised in the research, and they did not contain arts and humanities journals, hence they were excluded from the citation-based metrics. However, items published in arts and humanities magazines were counted as scholarly papers in the publications index. The deliberate removal of arts and humanities journals increases the robustness of the results. Arts and humanities publications acquire few citations and citation analysis is less robust; as a result, the deliberate exclusion of arts and humanities journals improves the robustness of the results.

The bibliometric and reputation indicators had no missing data.


University Rankings by Region

U.S. News then developed additional rankings after calculating the overall top 1,750 university rankings. The top universities in five regions with a substantial number of globally recognised schools are listed in the U.S. News Best Global Universities rankings by region. Africa, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Europe, and Latin America are the regions in question. We used the United Nations' concept of geographical areas to figure out which countries belong to which region.

Universities are ranked in their respective regions purely on the basis of their overall position in the Best Global Universities ranking.


For example, the top-ranked European institution, the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, is ranked No. 5 globally. In addition to its overall score, the institution is ranked first in Europe's regional rankings. The University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom is the second highest-ranked university in Europe, with a global ranking of No. 8 and a ranking of No. 2 in Europe.

University Rankings by Country


The top universities in 46 nations are listed in the U.S. News Best Global Universities rankings by country, with each country having five or more schools in the overall ranking. Universities are ranked in their respective countries based on their overall rating in the Best Global Universities list.

For example, the University of Toronto, which is ranked No. 16 in the world, is the best-performing Canadian university. This total ranking also places the school at the top of the Best Global Universities in Canada list. The University of British Columbia is placed No. 35 in the overall list, making it Canada's No. 2 university, followed by McGill University, which is ranked No. 51 nationally and No. 3 in Canada.


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