Pitt Is 11th Among U.S. Publics in 'High Impact Universities' Rankings

Issue Date: 
October 11, 2010

The University of Pittsburgh places 11th among U.S. public institutions of higher education, 25th among all U.S. universities, and 31st in the world in a new “High Impact Universities 2010” ranking conducted in affiliation with the University of Western Australia that benchmarks “the research output or performance of the world’s top universities.”

The other top U.S. public institutions in the ranking are UCLA, Berkeley, Michigan, University of Washington, UC-San Diego, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Penn State, UC-San Francisco, and North Carolina. The top private U.S. universities in the ranking are Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Penn, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Chicago, Cornell, Yale, Duke, NYU, Northwestern, Rochester, and USC. Among the top foreign universities in the ranking are Cambridge, Oxford, the Imperial College of London, and the University of Paris. Pitt outranks, among many others, Caltech, Dartmouth, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio State, Princeton, Purdue, Rice, Rutgers, Texas, Virginia, and Washington University in St. Louis.

The authors of the ranking, published online, say that their project “is all about promoting a move toward simplicity, transparency, and fairness in the process of performance or impact assessment of university research” [italics theirs]. The ranking uses what it terms a research performance index or RPI for each university, employing indices of quantitative measures “of the quality and consistency of publication [by faculty members] as measured by citations or references.” The authors say that these measures are “objective, verifiable, and difficult to manipulate.”

The online publication considers each institution as possessing “five broad faculties” that it ranks separately and designates as follows: medicine, dentistry, pharmacology, and health sciences; pure, natural, and mathematical sciences; engineering, computing, and technology; life, biological, and agricultural sciences; and arts, humanities, business, and social sciences. The highest ranking of the Pitt faculty categories is the first—in medicine, dentistry, pharmacology, and health sciences—which is No. 6 among U.S. public institutions, No. 12 among all U.S. institutions, and No. 16 in the world, followed by the life, biological, and agricultural sciences category, in which Pitt is No. 8 among U.S. publics, No. 20 among all U.S. institutions, and No. 31 in the world; and the arts, humanities, business, and social sciences category, in which Pitt is ranked 16th among U.S. publics and 28th in both the U.S. and the world.

The RPI for each institution “is a percentage, indicating its overall quality and consistency of research output, with equal contributions from all faculties, as measured relative to a world ‘dream team’ comprising all the best faculties in the world.”

According to the ranking’s publication policy, the faculty publications used for the ranking were those appearing between 2000 and 2009 inclusive and were “restricted to journal and conference articles and authored and edited books,” while no restrictions were placed on the sources of citations.