Towards Objectivity in Rankings: Using Citation Data to Assess the Research Performance of Higher Education Institutions

By Harry Müller.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Rankings are a controversial issue in higher education because of their often unsatisfactory methodological standards in contrast to their high practical relevance. In this paper, we focus on research rankings of universities and departments to discuss some of their most crucial characteristics, the use of an appropriate indicator for performance and a valid way to aggregate the scores on an institutional level. In spite of some particular shortcomings, we argue, citation data seems to be the most adequate way to assess the intellectual impact of research publications. On this basis, we propose three different ways to aggregate the scores of individual scholars on an institutional level. The method is applied to business departments in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Based on these results, we investigate economies of scale within the dataset. The paper concludes with a critical evaluation of the obtained results.

Keywords: Bibliometrics, Citations, Performance Measurement, Rankings, Research Performance

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.49-58. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 234.437KB).

Harry Müller

Research Assistant, Institute for Organisational Economics, University of Münster, Muenster, Germany

Harry Müller is research associate and PhD candidate at the University of Münster. He holds a BA in History and Economics and an MSc in Business Administration (both University of Münster). In his research, he focussed on management of higher education, and he has published on rankings and citation analysis. Harry Müller received scholarships from the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes), the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation, and was awarded the Ulrich-Teichler-Prize by the Association for Higher Education Research (Gesellschaft für Hochschulforschung) in 2011.

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