Research citations take centre stage in the National Taiwan University Ranking 2014 – Canada


Previously known to the world as the HEEACT ranking, the National Taiwan University’s Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers (hereafter NTU Rankings), takes an innovative approach to providing data on how universities influence and shape existing knowledge through research contributions, collaboration, and academic awards. Unlike their performance in the Leiden Rankings, Canadian universities are cast as key actors in the international output of academic knowledge. While most university tables base their methodology on measuring student experience, variably in the form of funding per head, student to faculty ratio, or graduate employability, NTU Rankings places its emphasis on research citations in scientific papers. But their use of the caveat ‘scientific’ is misleading, as their approach encompasses disciplines as divergent from the sciences as the arts and humanities.

Unlike their closest relative, the Leiden Rankings, NTU Rankings reflects global shifts in research excellence rather than playing into the hegemony of the existing hierarchy. While the Leiden Rankings include in the final tables themselves both the indicators ‘P’ – for number of publications, and ‘PP’ – the proportion of publications in the most prestigious 10% of their field – NTU Rankings appear to make an overt effort to discount data that might appear hierarchical or based on unfounded prestige. Objectivity seems to be the byword for the research emerging from the National Taiwan University, and their bibliometric analysis of over 4000 institutions has revealed Canada as a key contributor to knowledge transfer.

While the top 10 is closely comparative to that of the Leiden Rankings, the key indicator of difference is in the world rankings overall. Dominating the top 10 Canadian universities, with their world position in brackets, are:

1 (4) University of Toronto

2 (27) University of British Columbia

3 (33) McGill University

4 (79) University of Alberta

5 (86) University of Montreal

6 (116) McMaster University

7 (144) University of Calgary

8 (161) University of Ottawa

9 (206) Western University

10 (226) Laval University

The Leiden Rankings, which found the top 3 unchanged from the NTU Rankings, placed the University of Toronto 87th overall, compared to the NTU Rankings’ 4th. Similarly, Leiden found only Toronto in the top 100, and the top 6 Canadian universities placed only within the top 200 overall, whereas NTU Rankings place the top 5 Canadian universities in the global top 100. This is a startling difference, and should be essential reading for any prospective student or faculty member of a Canadian institution. While the Leiden World Rankings may have made difficult reading for some, in light of the overemphasis placed on petty indicators of excellence – such as Nobel winners and papers featured in prestigious publications – the NTU Rankings may better reflect the reality of research productivity.

While English-speaking universities are gradually falling from the top flight, Canadian institutions are proving to be the exception. Much lesser known than its fellow citation-based table the Leiden Rankings, NTU Rankings have found a consistent dedication to collaboration, publication, and experimentation in Canadian universities, who are shown to be hot on the heels of many well-known educational behemoths. Shunning fickle and surface indicators of quality, and shining a light onto the research process – from lab work to citation – seems to be the perfect way for Canadian universities to demonstrate their ability to rub shoulders with the global elite.