Is Shanghai Ranking Short Changing The Emerging Countries?

By Chandrashekar (Chandra) Tamirisa, (On Twitter) @c_tamirisa

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The Shanghai Ranking consultancy has published its prestigious ranking of the world’s top universities. And none of the top ten is Chinese. 8 are American and 2 are British.

The consultancy’s latest world university rankings methodology, largely rooted in the structural violence in Anglo-American education, does not appear to take into account network and language biases in Highly Cited Researchers in 21 Broad Subject Categories (HiCi), Papers published in Nature and Science (N&S) and Papers indexed in Science Citation Index-expanded and Social Science Citation Index (PUB) categories which make up 60% of the total weight.

Network bias de facto restricts the access of scholars to be cited by not being published in the top journals and because of a lack of academic integrity in the peer review process if hitherto less known scholars enter the field, albeit with better ideas. Language bias, the de facto language of publication choice being English, also is biased against non-English countries.

Shanghai Ranking would be better off reconsidering its methodology because without taking into account the above two factors, the rankings are legitimate only to the extent that the research of the alumni is recognized by Nobels and Fields medals.

Given the above two biases, the ranking inference from data about Nobels and Fields is also unclear because of adverse selection in the institutional structure of the education system and restricted access of otherwise bright researchers to be visible if they are out of the network.

The universities are better because the self-proclaimed best minds congregate there, not vice versa, disadvantaging the other institutions because of a lack of dispersion. This may even be stifling the advancement of knowledge by restricting freedom of inquiry because of academic politics tied to funding and discouraging out of network scholars and researchers from entering the field because of the pecking order requirements in the ownership of ideas, fundamentally compromising the integrity of the academic process (this link corresponds to the corrupt and abusive behaviors of the very same top 10 academic institutions whose faculty graduates make up the ranks of the supercapitalists among the member institutions of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland besides also populating governments around the world corrupting the democratic processes, the Federal Reserve and the Obama administration being an example of such compromise of government integrity).

My recommendation, therefore, to advance knowledge less politically and bureaucratically, would be to achieve knowledge dispersal by region and within regions: (a) in the distribution of research scholars around the world; (b) where they choose to publish; and (c) to publish in the languages they are comfortable with (while providing translations of those journals in English), whatever the field.

It is not necessary for scholars around the world to be dependent on the top journals in the United States and in the United Kingdom. They should start their own journals and compete in the quality of regional and intra-regional research, rather than to seek prestige within the existing structure of the global educational establishment which is dominated by the top 10 global universities in the two English speaking countries, about 1/100th of the total number of university graduates in the top 500 universities and far worse if all the universities of the world are taken into account.

In sum, contextual considerations render Shanghai Ranking Consultancy’s and U.S News and World Report ranking statistics meaningless except for marketing purposes because it is highly likely that despite the Nobels and Fields (the integrity of the academic process is in question for not properly crediting the ideators and authors of their ideas and writings), knowledge may not be advancing as rapidly as it did beginning a century ago through mid-20th century because Nobels and Fields are a measure of fundamental contributions, not applications. The evidence that this is the case is incontrovertible.

Still, why is the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy intent on maintaining Anglo-American domination in its statistical analysis at the top? The most likely scenario is geopolitics: China is coopting the top 10 educational institutions in the United States and the United Kingdom (UK) to short change competing emerging markets on education while advancing itself to politically and economically to dominate geopolitics by 2050, displacing the United States and the UK.

English will remain the common language of scholarship and innovation, but as the world’s second or third language, the Chinese Mandarin language creeping in together with Chinese universities at the top of the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy heap.


About Chandrashekar (Chandra) Tamirisa
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