A Comparative Study of Five World University Rankings

  • Henk F. MoedEmail author
Part of the Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Scientific and Scholarly Communication book series (QQASSC)


To provide users insight into the value and limits of world university rankings, a comparative analysis is conducted of 5 ranking systems: ARWU, Leiden, THE, QS and U - Multirank. It links these systems with one another at the level of individual institutions, and analyses the overlap in institutional coverage, geographical coverage, how indicators are calculated from raw data, the skewnessskewness of indicator distributions, and statistical correlations between indicators. Four secondary analyses are presented investigating national academic systems and selected pairs of indicators.


Academic reputation Alumni Awards Citations per faculty European higher education area Faculty-student ratio Geographical distributions Highly cited researchers Industry income Institutional overlap International faculty Per capita performance Quality of faculty Ranking methodology Teaching performance 



The author wishes to thank two referees of the journal Scientometrics for their useful comments on an earlier version of this paper. The author is also grateful to the members of the Nucleo di Valutazione of the Sapienza University of Rome for stimulating discussions about the interpretation and the policy significance of world university rankings.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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