Leiden Ranking is published by the Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University (the Netherlands). It is a research-based ranking that now includes open access publications and gender equity in addition to standard measures of publications and citations. The ranking is based on the Web of Science and does not use surveys or data submitted by institutions.
The Ranking does not publish a single composite ranking although the default list is based on number of publications over a four-year period. Instead it is possible to generate rankings of quantity or quality by changing parameters such as size independence or dependence, number of publications, and fractional counting of publications.
It is possible to analyse the data to determine the extent to which universities are progressing through the publication of large numbers of research papers and those which are producing work of a high quality. In the recent 2020 ranking the top five universities for total publications are:
- Harvard University, USA
- Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
- Zhejiang University, China
- University of Toronto, Canada
- Tsinghua University, China.
The top twenty includes ten Chinese universities but only five in the USA.
The five universities for publications in top 10% of journals are:
- Harvard University
- Stanford University, USA
- University of Toronto
- University of Oxford, UK
- University of Michigan, USA.
Here the balance is reversed. In the top twenty of this list there are thirteen US universities and three Chinese.
We can consider the publication of papers in the top 1% of journals as the peak of research excellence. The top five universities in this category are:
- Harvard University
- Stanford University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA
- University of Oxford
- University of Toronto.
Here there is only one Chinese University, Tsinghua in fourteenth place, compared to four British and fourteen US. Of the American universities five are located in California.
It seems that while China is taking the lead for research output, the USA and the UK are still holding their own for quality of research, at least for the moment.