Since few universities can afford to be excellent in all subject areas, university administrators face the difficult decision of selecting areas for strategic investment. While the past decade has seen a proliferation of university ranking systems, several aspects in the design of most ranking systems make them inappropriate to benchmark performance in a way that supports formulation of effective institutional research strategy. To support strategic decision making, universities require research benchmarking data that is sufficiently fine-grained to show variation among specific research areas and identify focused areas of excellence; is objective and verifiable; and provides meaningful comparisons across the diversity of national higher education environments.
This paper describes the Global Research Benchmarking System (GRBS) which satisfies these requirements by providing fine-grained objective data to internationally benchmark university research performance in over 250 areas of Science and Technology. We provide analyses of research performance at country and university levels, using the diversity of indicators in GRBS to examine distributions of research quality in countries and universities as well as to contrast university research performance from volume and quality perspectives. A comparison of the GRBS results with those of the three predominant ranking systems shows how GRBS is able to identify pockets of excellence within universities that are overlooked by the more traditional aggregate level approaches.
P Haddawy, Saeed-Ul Hassan, IB Lee, A Craig, Uncovering Fine-Grained Research Excellence: The Global Research Benchmarking System,Journal of Informatics, (in press).