Science - October 8, 2015

Big jump for Wageningen in Times ranking

Albert Sikkema

Wageningen UR has stormed into the top 50 in the World University rankings, where it is 47th. That makes it the best Dutch university in the most important university ranking in the world, produced by the British journal Times Higher Education (THE).

The big jump raises questions. Have Wageningen’s researchers suddenly become so much better? No, the people responsible for the rankings have changed the way they calculate their quality assessments. Firstly, the THE editors no longer outsource the data collection for the ranking; this is carried out in house. Secondly, THE has switched from Web of Science to Elsevier’s Scopus for the data collection. THE has now evaluated 11 million papers from 22,000 journals, as opposed to 6 million papers from 12,000 journals for the previous ranking. That also means an increase in the number of non-English-language journals.

These changes reduce the relative advantage of universities from wealthy countries where they speak English and rewards collaboration in international networks. In addition, the editors expanded the survey among researchers. This time, the survey was in 15 languages, compared with nine languages in previous editions. A correction was also made for the excessively high proportion of American respondents to the survey.