We often hear about the rankings and ratings of institutes which are considered the best in terms of research. Unsurprisingly, they’re often located in developed countries. Yet, a more nuanced view of the global research landscape reveals that many institutes in developing countries have competitive research strengths in as well. The reason these don’t come up in global research indexes is that usually such institutes excel in niche areas. The methodology for research ranking commonly looks at the comprehensive research strengths of institutes and as a result overlooks these small pockets of competitive research.
For example, a leading university in the developed world will usually have an integrated Computer Science and Electrical Engineering which will be producing a lot of research in this broad discipline. The approach to rank the quality of universities’ research (done through bibliometric indexes of quality and volume of research) will consider such integrated departments as a term of comparison. This method will not take into consideration a university in the developing world which may not have such an integrated department or comprehensive strengths overall as an institution, but might well be doing excellent research in, say, the sub-field of Artificial Intelligence.
To create recognition about niche research strengths, ITU’s Scientometrics Lab, under the patronage of Dr. Saeed ul Hassan, is building a data analysing tool. This is a pioneering project launched to address the fact that research quality measurement models for the developing world need to be differentiated.
The idea behind this project is that the identification of such research strengths will help institutes and universities in the developing world to strengthen their programs, focus on their strengths, improve their research profiles and be in a better position to apply for funding and research grants. The project is at an initial stage at the moment but it will eventually allow universities to compare their departmental and niche research strengths through various indicators and benchmark their research strengths with better analytical tools.