Higher Education Strategy Associates

Bibliometrics: Who’s the Best?

Today, we released the full version of our bibliometric paper, showing H-index averages on a discipline-by-discipline basis. You can find it here.

(Keep in mind while reading it that the H-index isn’t a wholly straightforward statistic to interpret. If one discipline has an H-index of 10 and another has an H-index of five, you can’t simply say that professors in one discipline publish twice as much as the other. An H-index is just the largest number of publications for which one also has at least the same number of citations – five papers with at least five citations gives an H-index of five, etc. So it’s possible that the discipline with an H-index of 5 might see just as many publications as the one with 10, just fewer citations.)

Now, because we know the H-index of every professor at the 71 institutions in our survey, we can aggregate their data on a departmental basis to find out how every academic department in the country fares against every department in the same field. Which means, basically, that we can pick out the “best” departments in each field, at least in the sense of the departments which have the highest average levels of scholarly productivity and impact, which is what the H-index measures. And we know how everyone loves rankings.

Do check part II of our paper for details, but the table below shows you which schools come out tops in each of the 55 disciplines we examined.

This is an interesting chart for a couple of reasons. First, the rank order of institutions with top departments doesn’t quite line up with the traditional perception of the rank order of top universities in Canada. In particular, UBC rarely gets top billing ahead of McGill and U of T, and Alberta isn’t usually seen as being behind Guelph and Saskatchewan. We wouldn’t read too much into that; even if it is the very best in just one field, Alberta is strong in a large number of fields (albeit many of them are in medicine, an area which our study wasn’t able to examine).

Queen’s standing in this listing is higher than it is in most research comparisons, but that’s because it does very well in disciplines which tend not to count much in traditional science-based indicator sets (e.g., literature and philosophy). When these fields are given equal weight, Queen’s does better.

A final point of interest is how widely excellence is spread: Lakehead and Wilfrid Laurier don’t usually make anyone’s list of major research universities, and yet, in certain areas of academia they can compete with the best.

More again tomorrow.

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One Response to Bibliometrics: Who’s the Best?

  1. Pingback: Research Rankings | HESA

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