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Learn more about university rankings and how research activities contribute

While rankings are not the sole indicator of an institution’s reputation and academic excellence, they help benchmark universities nationally, regionally, and globally. Many factors contribute to rankings, including research output and collaboration.

Explore these resources for a deeper look into how rankings work, and learn about analyzing and tracking research activities that are counted — so you can better support your rankings objectives.

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Overview & perspectives

Learn the basics about university rankings, their purpose and methodologies. Explore multiple perspectives from universities across the globe on how they respond, track and participate in rankings and the data behind them.

Guide: A closer look at how university rankings work

Ranking systems have their strengths, limitations, and specific focus — with evolving methodologies. Learn who the major ranking organizations are, how they rank universities and key things to consider.

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University rankings

Podcast: Perspectives on rankings from a young university, featuring César Wazen

Take a moment to listen to Qatar University's approach to rankings. Cesar Wazen, Director of International Affairs, explains the intricate requirements of rankings and how they may or may not align with the university's goals and aspirations.

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Article: Beyond university rankings: promoting transparency and accountability

Princeton University's President, Christopher L Eisgruber, advocates for universities to embrace alternative metrics and information sources beyond the conventional rankings.

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Article: Measuring knowledge exploration and exploitation in universities

Read an open access article by Marta Peris-Ortiz, Dayanis García-Hurtado, and Alberto Prado Román, delving into the intricacies of global university rankings, their indicators, and their impact on university management.

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"We have always believed these rankings are not designed to say that one university is better than another. It is more about being able to look at the institution through a variety of lenses, whether it’s teaching, research, knowledge transfer or international visibility.

Universities are increasingly investing in an evidence-based approach to develop a clear understanding of their position and progress. They are increasingly using a basket of diverse metrics to understand their strengths, set goals, chart their progress, and make budgetary decisions. Rankings are just one of the tools they can use."

M’hamed el Aisati


M’hamed El Aisati

VP Analytical and Data Services, Elsevier

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The data and methodologies behind university rankings

Learn how different rankings organizations' methodologies work and how you can view, investigate and monitor the data points that may be contributing to your institution's rankings.

Quick guide to major global rankings

Get a comprehensive overview of seven ranking reports, including the organizations' stated objectives for each report, an explanation of their methodology, and the data source they use. The information is sourced from publicly available data. Last updated in September 2023.

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7 major rankings

Bibliometric data and THE University Rankings

To calculate their rankings, THE collects data from multiple external sources including bibliometric data. Discover the significance of this data, its contribution to their methodology and the valuable insights it offers.

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Bibliometric data from SciVal

Bibliometric data and QS Rankings

The QS rankings, which consist of the World University Rankings and Ranking by Subjects, use bibliometric data to calculate their results. This year, they made enhancements to their methodology, which includes three new metrics. Learn more about how bibliometric data influences QS rankings.

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Understanding Scopus & SciVal & the QS World University Rank

About THE Impact Rankings, Scopus & SciVal

For their Impact Rankings, THE uses research-related metrics and metrics based on the university's own data and evidence supporting progress. Learn about their methodology and the insights Scopus and SciVal provide.

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THE Impact Rankings, Scopus and SciVal

U.S. News & World Report: 2024 Best Colleges Rankings Methodology Quick Guide

Recognizing the importance of evolving formulas and indicators over time, U.S. News & World Report has made significant methodological changes to the 2024 Best Colleges ranking, by modifying its weights of several other factors, and introducing a few new ones. This guide offers a concise overview of the national ranking and its new methodology.

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U.S. News & World Report

We can help you support your institution's ranking and reputation goals

Get quality bibliometric data and analytical tools to inform your university's ranking strategy

Scopus and SciVal enable university staff to plan, progress and evaluate institutional research activities with bibliometric data and analytical tools that align with ranking organizations' methodologies.

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U.S. News partners with Elsevier

U.S. News and World Report has chosen to leverage the quality and breadth of Elsevier's Scopus Data in its Best Colleges Rankings to accurately measure the research output of U.S. universities. The new methodology places greater emphasis on outcomes such as how often a school's students from all socioeconomic backgrounds earn degrees and graduate with manageable debt.

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US news partners with Elsevier

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