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Study shows importance of data quality and methodology

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Data quality and methodology are key concerns in higher education rankings, according to a study by Thomson Reuters.

The survey report, New Outlooks on Institutional Profiles, revealed that respondents generally see value in the current analytic comparison systems. About 40 per cent said these systems were 'extremely/very useful' and a further 45 per cent said they were 'somewhat useful'.

However, the data indicators and methodology currently used were perceived unfavourably by many and there was widespread concern about data quality in North America and Europe. Respondents also felt that current analyses tend to favour English-speaking nations and that this may obscure the changing geography of academic activity. In addition, 74 per cent of respondents believe that institutions manipulate their data to move up in rankings.

New Outlooks on Institutional Profiles includes data from 350 respondents. The results will inform the methodology around the Global Institutional Profiles Project, Thomson Reuters' new initiative to build a comprehensive database that combines peer review, scholarly outputs, citation patterns, funding levels, and faculty characteristics.