Last week Stephen and I were very happy to be invited to talk at the Northern Collaboration Conference in Darlington about the development of our new Citation Services at the University of Manchester.
Northern Collaboration is a group of university libraries in the north of England with the aim of establishing closer collaboration in the development and delivery of library services, and this was the second year that the conference has been held.
There was plenty of interest in our breakout session as we talked about the work The University of Manchester Library does in providing citation benchmarking analyses, standard reporting, and training workshops. The session might not have been so well attended had there been prior warning about the test we gave them half way through the presentation. Thankfully everyone passed!
The event was a great opportunity to showcase the Library’s achievements but it was also really good to meet colleagues in other academic libraries and learn more about some of the innovative developments across the sector.
Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) has just published its latest annual Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). This is one of the most widely used global league tables for universities. The top university (for the twelfth year running) is Harvard. The US has 52 universities in the Top 100, and the next-best performing country is the UK, with eight. Cambridge is the top UK university this year – ranked 5th in the world.
Our own university, Manchester, has risen three places to 38th in the world, and ranks 5th in the UK. Like many other universities, Manchester is keen to rise even higher in the rankings, and the Library’s Citation Services team is providing expert bibliometric analysis to help inform discussion of how to achieve this.
Measure for measure
The many global league tables, such as the ARWU and those produced by Times Higher Education and QS, all use different metrics for ranking universities, ranging from the number of publications produced by a university to its reputation for research excellence among its peers as measured by a survey.
Most of the metrics which the ARWU uses are based on how many articles a university publishes in top journals or how many citations these articles receive. These include
how many articles a university publishes in science and social science journals covered by the Web of Science, the most long-established multidisciplinary bibliographic database
how many articles a university publishes in Natureand Science, generally considered the most prestigious of all multidisciplinary science journals
A frequent early criticism of the ARWU was that, although SJTU gave details of the elements used for creating the ranking, it did not explain how these elements were converted into scores, and so the results were not reproducible. However, recent research has succeeded in reproducing the results, and has thus ‘opened the black box’ of the ARWU.
The Library is working in partnership with Altmetric LLP to trial their new ‘Altmetric for Institutions’ application. We’re really excited to be one of the first Universities to have access to the platform which provides powerful insights into the online attention that our researchers’ outputs attract.
So far we’re getting lots of positive feedback which we’ll share when we write up our experiences of the trial later in the year.
In the meantime, if you’re a member of staff or a student at The University of Manchester and would like to take part in the trial please get in touch to find out how.