On the internal dynamics of the Shanghai ranking

Domingo Docampo, Lawrence Cram

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    The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) published by researchers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University has become a major source of information for university administrators, country officials, students and the public at large. Recent discoveries regarding its internal dynamics allow the inversion of published ARWU indicator scores to reconstruct raw scores for 500 world class universities. This paper explores raw scores in the ARWU and in other contests to contrast the dynamics of rankdriven and score-driven tables, and to explain why the ARWU ranking is a score-driven procedure. We show that the ARWU indicators constitute sub-scales of a single factor accounting for research performance, and provide an account of the system of gains and non-linearities used by ARWU. The paper discusses the non-linearities selected by ARWU, concluding that they are designed to represent the regressive character of indicators measuring research performance. We propose that the utility and usability of the ARWU could be greatly improved by replacing the unwanted dynamical effects of the annual re-scaling based on raw scores of the best performers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1347-1366
    Number of pages20
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


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