University rankings are probably like statistics in baseball: they are fun as long as you don’t take them seriously. I am not a fan of of baseball myself (if I had to pick a sport then it would probably be what most of the world refers as football). In any case I have read enough essays from Stephen J. Gould to see how a baseball fan could find statistics fun. Better performing teams tend to have better numbers in those statistics but if the coach decided to focus on improving those numbers (and just the numbers alone) it is likely that the results would be disastrous.
So for the sake of light-hearted fun I will post here a ranking of research in British universities that the Guardian has compiled on occasion of the impeding deadline for submissions to the Research Assessment Exercise that will determine how a lot of the government research money will be distributed.
On top, the usual ones: Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL, Edinburgh, King’s, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Bristol. It looks likely that, as usual Oxford, Cambridge and London will get the bulk of the money. Scottish Universities do not to bad either with Edinburgh in the 5th position, Glasgow on the 9th and Dundee still in the top 20.
Now, in order to compile this statistics, the Guardian measures the usual which, of course, includes publication numbers and impact. Another blogger in Nature Networks and a fellow Dresdner, Joseph Zhou, has posted this about how Andrew Wiles found the time to proof Fermat’s last theorem : He just wrote 20 papers, kept them on this desk and submitted them at a rate of two a year in order to keep his academic career going while using his time in the very risky task of finding a solution to a problem that had been unsolved for hundreds of years.
UPDATE: Ranking from the THES. Still same story.