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Webometrics ranking: not that far from Shanghai

More rankings! Another ‘Webometrics Ranking of World Universities’ is out this month. This global ranking compares more than 20 000 universities by their web presence and its basic aim is to promote web publishing and open access initiatives as well as accurate web appearance by scholars and higher education institutions. It examines online visibility of universities and the impact of their publications, measured through the numbers of site citations (50%). It also looks into universities’ activities, based on three variables presence (20%) – the total number of webpages, openness (15%) – the total number of online documents in rich formats (pdf, doc, ppt) published on designated pages, and excellence (15%) – the total number of papers published in high impact international journals. 

The online profile of universities based on this global ranking looks as follows: Harvard leads the game just as in the Shanghai ranking; it is followed by MIT and Stanford, respectively on the 2nd and 3rd place. There are 17 US universities among the top 20 - the University of Toronto and the Oxbridge couple are the only non-US universities among the top performers. Overall, dominant global web presence is, not surprisingly, Anglophone. 

Looking at the regional charts, Brazil leads in Latin America with 13 universities among the top 20. Australia is led by the University of Melbourne, which takes the 82nd place on the global list. The picture is much more mixed in Asia: the highest ranked university is Seoul National University, one of only 2 South Korean universities in the top 20 with just as many as Japan and Hong Kong. China leads with 8 universities while the second best ranked is Taiwan with 4 institutions. It gets even more diverse in Europe - but not at all surprising. The Oxbridge tandem is at the very top, followed by one of the two top-scoring Swiss universities - ETH Zürich - in the 3rd place. With 4 universities, the UK leads the top 20 crew, the Netherlands has one institution less and then follow Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Italy, each with 2 universities among the top 20. The same trend is noticeable as in the Shanghai ranking for countries like Belgium or the Netherlands to score very high relative to their size. Universities in these countries also demonstrate a wide range of activities, given their high positioning and the different foci of the two rankings and the indicators used. It is no surprise perhaps, that the African chart again shows huge disparities. One Kenyan, one Ethiopian, one Ugandan and one Nigerian university are the four ones to slightly diversify the predominance of universities from South Africa (10) and Egypt (6) among the highest scoring 20. 

The Webometrics ranking is conducted by the Cybermetrics Lab in Spain (here