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Via The Australian : The University of Queensland has topped a radical new Asia-specific ranking that seeks to measure the research excellence and capabilities of universities in real time rather than use historical factors.

The Asia 100 ranking, which is focused on recent research outputs and citations, places four Australian universities in its top 10 and six in its top 15.

The principal of Barlow Advisory, Thomas Barlow, who created the new ranking, said: “Global league tables, which emphasise historical performance and measures with long lead times, such as Nobel prizes, tend to favour established institutions. Rankings based upon surveys are also susceptible to inertia because subjective impressions often outlast their original justifications.

“But a shift is under way, which will make it increasingly difficult for Australian institutions to maintain their present, excellent global standings.”

Asia 100 breaks down university research in institutions in East Asia and Australasia into 60 disciplines and 16 fields. A ranking algorithm looks at outputs, ­citations, international engagement and industry collaboration.

Dr Barlow said the immediacy of his ranking gave a much clearer real-time picture of the research performance of a university. He said researchers moved around, leaders came and went, politicians and policies changed regularly, all of which affected the performance of individual institutions. “We are in a climate where some institutions have been growing very rapidly, whole systems have been growing quickly, but there is a lag effect.

“Any institution that wants to understand its position in the world needs to play the (established) rankings game. They need to be cognisant of that and understand the long-term issues. But it’s important for planning to know exactly where they sit now.

“This is a recent snapshot that will help them understand where they will be in a couple of year.”

Under the Asia 100 index, UQ is placed first, a tribute to its comprehensive and balanced research portfolio.

Dr Barlow said other universities, such as Melbourne, were more likely to top mainstream rankings but were penalised under his methodology for being too dependent on medical research. “It also works in the Asian context … a lot of institutions have prioritised investment in maths, chemistry, engineering or computer science,” he said. “So those institutions end up with enormous gaps in their portfolios.”

For example, he suggested the University of Tokyo, which is highly placed on traditional rankings, might be resting on its laurels. “They haven’t been growing their citation performance at a time when their Chinese competitors have been. And they are not well connected internationally.”

On the local front, some newcomers, including Griffith, Curtin, the University of Technology Sydney and Queensland University of Technology, were making big strides, Dr Barlow said.


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