With IITs Boycotting World University Rankings, UK Based Agency Behind The List Changes Criteria To Address Their Concerns

With IITs Boycotting World University Rankings, UK Based Agency Behind The List Changes Criteria To Address Their Concerns

by Swarajya Staff - Wednesday, April 26, 2023 09:21 AM IST
With IITs Boycotting World University Rankings, UK Based Agency Behind The List Changes Criteria To Address Their ConcernsIIT Delhi

The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings reportedly reached out to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) last month after a three-year boycott stemming from "transparency" issues.

THE informed the premier institutions of performance parameter changes for this year in hopes of allaying past concerns and regaining their participation.

According to source cited by the Indian Express, THE representatives on 7 March made a presentation to IT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay, and IIT-Madras, and listed changes to the ranking criteria modifications, including citation metric changes previously criticised by IITs.

The rankings are annually published by the UK-based Times Higher Education magazine.

The citation metric, a measure of the average number of times a university's published work is cited by scholars globally, previously carried a weightage of 30 per cent.

The Citation metric's weightage has now been decreased to 15 per cent, according to the Indian Express report.

The IITs had expressed apprehensions towards the citation metric, citing some collaborative research projects. They alleged that other institutions use such research projects to inflate their score on the metric.

With multiple authors involved, research papers from such projects receive high citations, providing an unfair advantage to an institution in the same project over others.

Consequently, one paper is cited several times worldwide, giving that institution a disproportionate advantage over others.

This can lead to an unfair representation of the institution’s research output and impact and may not accurately reflect its actual performance, the IITs had reportedly told THE.

The seven old IITs in Mumbai, Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Kanpur, Roorkee, and Kharagpur boycotted THE rankings first in 2020 due to lack of transparency, as they failed to secure any position among the world’s top 300 universities.

In 2019, a relatively newer IIT outshone its older and established counterparts in these rankings, scoring high on the citation metric on account of being part of an international collaborative research project.

THE has introduced three new indicators while reducing the weighting of the "influential" citation metric by half.

The three new indicators - typical research strength, excellence in research, and citation network effect - make up 15 per cent of the evaluation. This compensates for the reduced influence of the citation metric.

These changes will address IITs’ concern over “high ranking positions for very small, relatively unknown Indian Institutions, with high volatility of positions from one year to the next for some institution”, THE reportedly argued in its presentation to IITs last month.

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