Research in University Rankings

An article by Irfan Ayhan of Sabanci University, Istambul, Turkye, ‘Research Trends in University Rankings: A Scoping Review of the Top 100 Most Cited Articles in Academic Journals from 2017 to 2021’, has been published in the European Review. It analyses the most frequently cited academic articles on university rankings.

The study found that the main areas of research were implications of university rankings, determinants of university rankings, alternative models, methodology, and the role or function of rankings.
The largest number of first-author affiliations is from the USA, followed by the UK, Spain, Turkey, Canada, the Netherlands, and Finland. Another thirty countries are represented by at least one article. Most studies deal with international rankings, with Times Higher Education (THE), QS, and the Shanghai Rankings being the most frequently analysed. A smaller number of articles are concerned with subject-specific rankings or with national rankings.

The most common research design was comparative correlational analysis using techniques such as Pearson correlation, regression analysis, variability and central tendency. There were also a number of qualitative studies that employed content analysis, discourse analysis, and thematic analysis.

The author concludes by noting that there is now a significant amount of research on ranking methodology, which might lead to improvements in their quality. He also suggests that future research should focus on rankings outside the Big Three—THE, QS, Shanghai—and that more case studies, meta-analysis, factor analysis, and structural equation modelling are needed.

European Review

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