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Rating Universities on Research: QS Stars

Rating Universities on Research: QS Stars main image

Research quality is a key criterion in many university ranking and rating systems. Find out below how this is assessed by the QS Stars university rating service.

In traditional university rankings, such as the QS World University Rankings, criteria relating to research quality often carry the most weight.

These are the traditional measures of how well a university performs academically. If you are looking for a university that is academically ahead of the pack, with a strong reputation across a wide range of subject areas, and a high output of groundbreaking work, then this is a QS Stars rating to which you should pay close attention.

To measure how good a university’s research quality is, we break it down into four areas, which are as follows:

Academic peer endorsements (40 points)

If you want to know how good something is, it’s logical that you ask for the opinions of the experts, and that is exactly what this criterion measures. Drawing on over 62,000 responses from academic experts in a range of disciplines across the world, academics identify the leading universities in their area of expertise. Points are awarded according to how many of them think that this is the case, with 200 such endorsements leading to maximum points.

Citations per paper (40 points)

A good way of measuring the significance of the work being done at any given university is to measure how many times it is cited in the papers of experts at other universities. The more groundbreaking it is, the more other experts will refer to it, using it as the new base from which further progress will be made.
To score the maximum amount of points in this area a university needs to average six citations per paper. We’ve taken into account the fact that some universities focus on certain subjects, and make adjustments when this is the case.

Research papers per faculty (40 points)

The number of papers published by an institution’s faculty serves as a useful measure of its productivity. The best universities are fast paced, dynamic environments which produce a great deal of important work across a wide range of disciplines, so the higher this number is, the better.
If a university produces seven papers for every faculty members, it will score full marks. Again, this is adjusted for specialist institutions, whose work may be focussed on a particular area.

Prolific academic experts (30 points)

There is a wide range of international awards designed to afford recognition to those who have carried out outstanding work in their field, the best known being the various Nobel Prizes.

Measuring the number of staff who have received global distinction in their area of expertise is a measure of the academic authority to which students will have access at a given institution, as well as reflecting positively on an institution capable of attracting such highly regarded researchers.

If 20 or more faculty have received one of our recognized awards, the university will receive top marks.

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