[photopress:wuhan_university_research.jpg,full,alignright]The Research Center for Chinese Science Evaluation of Wuhan University (the illustration is of the university) made a list of research competitiveness of universities around the world. This is a fairly debatable exercise as any such rankings must, by definition, be at least partly subjective.
Nevertheless, Chinese universities, measured by the benchmark of research competitiveness, did not come out of it very well.
The highest ranked Chinese university on the list is Beijing University, at 192nd, followed by Tsinghua University, at 196th.
At the top is Harvard and nine of the top ten universities are in the United States. However research competence of mainland China institutions taken as a whole moved up to No.16 in the world from last year’s position of No.22.
The ranking is based on Essential Science Indicators (ESI), which provides data of journal article publication counts and citation frequencies in over 11,000 journals around the world in 22 research fields. In theory such peer-reviewed publications are above reproach. The reality is, perhaps, somewhat different. Some of the greatest university lecturers believe their job is to teach the students, not write publishable papers on abstruse subjects. They ignore the ruling that it is ‘publish or perish’.
A statement from the research center said that researchers hope to use the study to ‘assess the position of Chinese universities in the world’ and to provide some reference for ‘building some key universities into internationally influential institutions.’
There is a counter argument which is the best way that universities can be judged is on the quality of the students who benefit from the education given rather than by research conducted.
The list is interesting, readable, but by no means a cause for alarm or, indeed, drastic action. The action, if needed, is in providing better education. Published research papers do not a great teaching instrument make.
Source: China in Transition
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