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University rankings: Scientific/Research pathway


Now we’ve discussed the different types of degrees, programs, and student profiles. It’s time to discuss student profiles in more detail. We present you with the Scientific/Research pathway, paved with facts and figures, shrouded in certainty, and focused on long-term learning. This pathway is a road traveled by the academically strong with a deep passion for in-depth analysis. This person will enjoy learning by delving deep into analyses of different theoretical resources. These students often consider completing a postgraduate degree and aren’t immediately interested in getting themselves on the job market. Which pathway are you most inclined to follow?

What is a Scientific/Research pathway?

If you are interested in extensive research and are not looking to break into the job market, then a Research pathway may be right for you. The Research pathway refers to a doctorate or Ph.D. focusing solely on research. Please be aware that you should be strong academically and have a keen research interest. This path will contain much information you must study for an extended period. Ph.D. and doctoral degrees follow on from Master's degrees.

Cybernews Academy Note: The Scientific pathway suggests that you will be participating in a theoretical course. It may also contain some practical elements, but most of the program will be research-based. These courses are exclusively BsC and Master's degrees.

Know your path: Rankings for Scientific/Research pathways

This section provides a few indicators to help you identify which rankings to look at. We will also provide you with different institutions that rank universities via this pathway.

Here are some of the needs you may need to consider before researching a Scientific/Research pathway:

  • Research Papers
  • Research Intensity
  • Citations Per Faculty
  • Academic Reputation

It’s also important to choose your university according to your needs. If you are planning on completing a more research-oriented course, you will need to develop an understanding of these factors. We will discuss these indicators more as we look at specific university rankings.

Some of these leading providers look at university rankings for research-based degrees.

  • QS World University Rankings
  • Times Higher Education - Global University Rankings
  • U.S News and World Report - Best Global University Rankings
  • Shanghai Rankings

So, let’s look at these scientific/research rankings.

QS University Rankings

QS Rankings include a combination of theoretical and practical indicators. So, if you want a course combining both elements, look at QS. But mainly, QS rankings look at the Scientific/Research pathway. If you’re looking for a research-based approach, it’s best to look at the main table of the QS world rankings.

Here’s an overview of QS’ criteria:

Academic Reputation40%
Employer Reputation10%
Faculty-Student Ratio 20%
Citations per Faculty 20%
International Faculty Ratio 5%
International Students Ratio 5%
International Research Network5%

Cybernews Academy Note: In this table, we can see that Academic reputation, Citations per Faculty, and Faculty-Student Ratio have the largest weightings. This shows that QS rankings are mostly research-based. However, practical elements like Faculty-Student ratio are also relevant, as this shows how much attention and support you may receive from your prospective institution. If you are taking a research-focused pathway, look at Academic Reputation, Citations per Faculty, and International Research Network.

Terminology explained

Ranking terminology can be pretty tricky when unfamiliar with the language. We at Cybernews Academy have broken down these common terms to help you understand the criteria of each ranking.

Cybernews Academy Note: This heading will appear throughout the article to help you understand the terms.

  • Academic Reputation: Academic reputation is generally defined as the overall impression left by a university. Academic reputation means that these universities are remembered for the work done within these institutions. This accounts for your university's credibility, the overall impression of excellence, and quality.
  • Faculty-Student Ratio: Faculty-student ratio pertains to the amount of academics, lecturers, and teachers per student.
  • Citations Per Faculty: Citations per faculty account for the total number of citations received by all papers produced within an institution across five years. Lecturers and scholars in universities often produce these journals.

Cybernews Academy Note: When looking at QS Global Rankings, If you are looking for a research-heavy course, pay attention to citations per faculty, as this helps understand an institution's research reputation. The more citations per faculty, the more chance you have of being taught by highly educated and academically recognized staff. Additionally, look into the international research network indicator, which measures how universities create and maintain research partnerships with other institutions.

QS sub rankings

QS Stars is a rating system that provides an in-depth look at specific universities. This will help you identify which universities are best in specific areas. This could be program strength, facilities, graduate employability, social responsibility, and inclusivity. If you are looking for a more practical program, QS stars are great practical indicators as they assess the program's strength and graduate employability. This criterion will let you know what your prospective institution is doing to facilitate a high-functioning learning environment.

Sustainability rankings measure the environmental and social impact of seven hundred institutions worldwide.

System Strength Rankings highlight countries with the world's strongest higher education systems.

I-GUAGE is a comprehensive, independent rating system that looks specifically at India’s universities and colleges.

The Times Higher Education Rankings

This ranking system looks at universities globally. The Times Higher Education Rankings records a combination of theoretical and practical approaches when ranking universities.

Let’s take a look at the criteria used by The Times Education:

Reputation survey15%
Academic staff-to-student ratio4.5%
Doctorates awarded-to-bachelor’s degrees awarded ratio2.25%
Doctorates awarded-to-academic staff ratio 6.0%
Institutional income2.25%
Reputation survey18%
Research income 6.0%
Research productivity6.0%
Citations30%
Proportion of international students 2.5%
Proportion of international staff2.5%
International collaboration2.5%
Industry income 2.5%

Cybernews Academy Note: We suggest you look at the largest percentages and see what these mean for you. For example, Citations are the largest weighted indicator at 30%, which means that this university ranking is more research-focused. In addition, the Reputation survey is the second highest ranking at 18% for research. However, The Times Higher also focuses on practical elements like the Teaching Reputation survey, Academic staff-to-student ratio, and income indicators. This presents how well the environment is for students at that university. However, this institution favors the research and scientific pathway, as research-based indicators are worth 62.5% of the total weighting. So, it's best to look at The Times Higher if you are looking for a research/scientific pathway.

Terminology explained

Here we have explained the terminology so you don’t get lost:

Cybernews Academy Note: The Times University Rankings combines practical and theoretical indicators. So, you have a good idea of what a university offers with this mix of criteria. If you want a more research-based pathway, check out research income, research productivity, international collaboration, and doctorates awarded to bachelor's ratio. To understand the learning environment, look at the proportion of international staff and students, industry income, and doctorates awarded to academic staff ratio. Here, you will find what kind of environment you are coming into.

  • Reputation Survey: A reputation survey is an annual academic survey that asks academic community members to assess universities and identify the top performers.
  • Research Income: Research income relates to the money a university grants to complete academic investigations.
  • Research Productivity: Research productivity measures the number of publications generated per researcher

Cybernews Academy Note: The Times University Rankings combines practical and theoretical indicators. So, you have a good idea of what a university offers with this mix of criteria. If you want a more research-based pathway, check out research income, research productivity, international collaboration, and doctorates awarded to bachelor's ratio. To understand the learning environment, look at the proportion of international staff and students, industry income, and doctorates awarded to academic staff ratio. Here, you will find what kind of environment you are coming into.

U.S. News and World Report - Best Global University Rankings

Some subjects are similar to the QS rankings, but some are exclusive to U.S. News and World Report.

Global Research Reputation12.5%
Regional Research Reputation 12.5%
Publications10%
Books2.5%
Conferences2.5%
Citation Impact10%
Number of publications that are among the 10% most cited 12.5%
Percentage of total publications that are among the 10% most cited10%
International collaboration5%
Number of highly cited papers that are among the top 1% most cited in their respective field5%

Cybernews Academy Note: The U.S. News and World Report Rankings are exclusively research-based. Unlike what we have seen with other ranking providers, this institution does not have a mix of practical and research indicators. If you are interested in how universities conduct their research, how many publications have been cited, and what the research output from that university is like, follow the U.S. News and World Report Rankings.

Terminology explained

Here, we have looked at the highest percentage indicators to help you understand what this criterion may mean.

  • Global Research Reputation: The indicator that reflects the most recent five years of results of the Academic Reputation survey for the best universities globally for research.
  • Regional Research Reputation: Reflects the aggregation of the most recent five years of results of the Academic Reputation Survey for the best universities for research in the region; regions were determined based on the United Nations definition.
  • Publications: Measure the overall research productivity based on the number of scholarly papers, reviews, articles, and notes containing university affiliations.

Cybernews Academy Note: If you are following a research pathway, the US News and World Report Rankings will apply to you as they look at publications, citation impact, regional research reputation, and global research reputation. These indicators of academic reputation will help you understand how well a university is regarded.

Shanghai Rankings

The Rankings use a range of objective academic indicators and third-party data to measure the performance of world universities in relevant subjects.

Alumni of an Institution winning Nobel Prizes and Field Medals10%Alumni
The Staff of an Institution winning Nobel Prizes and Field Medals20%Award
Highly Cited Researchers20%HiCi
Research Output Papers Published in Nature and Science*20%N&S
Papers indexed in Science Citation Index-Expanded and Social Science Citation Index20%PUB
Per capita academic performance of an institution10%PCP

Cybernews Academy Note: Like U.S. News and World Report Rankings, Shanghai Rankings focus purely on research. Their rankings focus on research output, academic performance, and research-based indicators. This league table, much like U.S. News and World Report Rankings, will only tell you about the research conducted in the university, how much research has been conducted by the staff, and how well that research has traveled in the wider academic community.

Terminology explained

Let’s look at these indicators– we will refer to them by their codes.

  • HiCi: Otherwise known as Highly Cited Researched selected by Clarative. Clarivate PLC is a British-American analytics company that collects data in bibliometrics. Clarative publishes an annual highly-cited research report that compiles the world's most renowned researchers in the past ten years. They are selected for their excellence in their chosen field. Clarative is a separate entity that collects data for this specific purpose
  • N&S: The total number of papers published in Nature and Science between 2016 and 2020. Only publications of ‘article’ type are considered in this ranking
  • PUB: This is the total number of papers recorded in the Science Citation and Social Science Citation Index

Cybernews Academy Note: Shanghai Rankings are research-specific rankings that measure the number of successful academics that have come for universities, how well research is conducted, and citation frequency. If you want to look at what kind of lecturer will be teaching you, check out the award indicator, which shows how many staff in the institution have won notable awards. Similarly, Alumni look at the success rate of that university by how many graduates have obtained significant rewards.

The Scientific/Research pathway is not for the faint of heart, it is a long and rewarding journey that will take many years to complete. Cybernews Academy has broken down each ranking provider best suited to the Scientific/Research pathway to show you which indicators to look for and how they are relevant. If the Scientific/Research pathway isn’t for you, check out the final article in the series, which will highlight the Practical/Hands-On pathway.