We understand that some results from our research rankings are causing some head-scratching. We thought we’d give you some insight into some of the key puzzles.
Q: Why isn’t U of T first? U of T is always first.
The fact that we didn’t include medical research is a big reason; had we done so, the results might have been quite different. But part of it also is that Toronto’s best subjects tend to be ones with high research costs and high publication/citation rates. Once you control for that, UBC surpasses Toronto on all measures.
Q: Why does UBC appear to be so much better than everyone else in SSHRC-related disciplines?
A variety of reasons, but much of it is down to the fact that the Sauder School is really good.
Q: Looking at the data, which schools stand out as being under-rated?
Simon Fraser makes the top ten in both SSHRC and NSERC disciplines, which most of the U-15 can’t say. UQ Rimouski came seventh in science and engineering – they aren’t very big but their strength in marine sciences puts them close to the top overall. In SSHRC-related disciplines, the answer is Guelph, which does extremely well in this area, despite having a reputation which is more science-based. York and Trent over-perform in both science and arts. York might not be such a surprise – it’s a big school with lots of resources even if it isn’t super in any of the “money” disciplines. But Trent was a revelation – by far the best publication record of any small-ish school in the country across all disciplines.
Q: And over-rated?
Despite being U-15 members, Western, Dalhousie and Laval all had relatively modest performances. At these schools more than the others, a lot of their research prestige seems to hang on their medical faculties.
Q: Any anomalies?
Apart from l’Université de Montréal, none of the francophone schools do very well in the social sciences and humanities rankings, and the culprit is on the bibliometric side rather than the funding side. The practice of publishing in French has the tendency to lessen the size of the potential audience. This reduces potential citations and hence reduces H-index scores. In the sciences and engineering, where publication tends to happen in English, francophone schools punch actually punch above their weight.
Q: Any trends of note?
UBC aside, its’ the Ontario institutions who really steal the show. Sure, they’re funded abysmally, but they perform substantially better on publication measures than anyone else in the country. We can’t say why, for sure, but maybe those high salaries really work. They’re tough on undergrad class sizes, though…