Rating universities on research: QS Stars | Top Universities

Rating universities on research: QS Stars

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Craig OCallaghan

Updated Jun 24, 2024



QS Stars: Research

If you’re looking for a university that’s academically ahead of the pack, with a strong reputation across a wide range of subject areas and a high output of ground-breaking work, this is a QS Stars rating that you should pay close attention to. 

To measure how good a university’s research quality is, QS Stars breaks it down into few different areas: 

Papers per faculty 

This indicator measures the research output of faculty members (for example lecturers and professors) to highlight the universities generating a steady stream of groundbreaking work.  Institutions known for high research productivity attract high-calibre faculty and students eager to be a part of a dynamic research environment. This means you'll be learning from the very minds shaping your field, giving you a head start in your academic journey. 

Full points will be awarded to institutions that produce at least seven papers per faculty member indexed on Scopus™ in a recent five-year period as per the latest QS World University Rankings analysis. 

Citations per paper 

Citations are a way to measure how much a research paper influences other studies. The more a paper is cited, the greater its impact on the field. High citation counts suggest the research is valuable and relevant to the academic community. They may use the findings to build upon existing knowledge or challenge established ideas. This cutting-edge research translates into a stronger global reputation for the university, which in turn attracts top academics and students. It's a cycle that fuels academic excellence. 

Full points will be awarded to institutions that produce at least eight citations per paper indexed on Scopus™ in a recent six-year period as per the latest QS World University Rankings analysis. 

Research funds 

Robust research funding fuels innovation. Universities with strong funding capabilities attract top graduate students by offering generous stipends and assistantships, nurturing the next generation of research leaders. 

 A university's success in securing research grants is widely considered a sign of its research strength. This, in turn, enhances its academic reputation among other universities and scientific institutions. 

Full points will be awarded to institutions that have allocated 30% of their turnover to research funding in the past fiscal year, including all public and private funds. 

Academic reputation 

If you’re in the process of choosing a university, you’ll likely have considered its reputation. And you’re not alone – over half of prospective international students prioritise a university with a good reputation when choosing a course (QS International Student Survey 2023). A strong reputation reflects an institution's commitment to excellence: in teaching, research, and student success. It attracts top researchers, funding, and valuable partnerships with academia and industry – all shaping your learning experience, and even enhancing your employability after graduation. 

Full points are awarded to institutions with 200 academic nominations received from the latest QS Global Academic Reputation Survey analysis. The survey is sent to many thousands of global academics each year. 

Finding the perfect university can be overwhelming. QS Stars simplifies your search by highlighting each university's strengths in key areas – from research to teaching quality, sustainability to employability.  

Focus on what matters to you, using our clear rating system to find and compare the universities that excel in areas you care about.  

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