Friday, February 22, 2008

More on Cambridge and Harvard

Alejandro Pisanty has an interesting comment on the previous post. I will reproduce a large part of here.

“In particular for Harvard it's darn tricky. "Harvard University" will
yield only a fraction of the production and the citations from there.
There's also Harvard Medical School, Harvard Business School, Harvard
Law School, etc., and nifty arrangements like Harvard-Smisthsonian
Astronomy Project (also in Cambridge MA; surely a half-floor of a physics or
astronomy unit in the best of cases) and so on.

QS and THES admit quite cynically that they don't really know too well
how to treat "children institutions". One can be sure that officials from
Harvard and Cambridge, and all British universities, have been well on
top of this by constant contact with QS and their staff. And, it all
happens in English.

One would reasonably excpect that QS does not apply the same care to
Malaysian or Mexican universities...”

The number of papers produced by the Harvard Business and Law Schools is relatively small although still a lot more than the Judge School of Business at Cambridge or Addenbrookes Hospital. Harvard Medical School, however, does produce a massive number of papers, over 35,000 according to Scopus between 2002 and 2006. Compare this with 12, 736 for "Harvard University" over the same period.

If QS did indeed count the papers produced by authors with a Harvard Medical School affiliation this would be an adequate -- probably more than adequate -- explanation for Harvard’s superiority over Cambridge in terms of citations. But another problem now arises. The number of citations per faculty would now be much larger than Caltech which does a bit better than Harvard in the THES-QS citations per faculty section.

It is possible that QS included the papers produced by HMS and then also counted " about [sic}10,674 medical school faculty". Not to do so would be absurd since any other procedure would mean that linguists, sociologists and engineers were getting credit for producing medical research.

But if QS counted papers with a Harvard Medical School affiliation and also counted all the medical faculty then we would be back where we started.

It still seems to me that the most plausible reconstruction of Harvard’s citations per faculty score is that QS did not count papers produced by the various schools, or least not by the Harvard Medical School, and that for the faculty figure they used the number given on the Harvard website or in QS’s school profile.

All this speculation would be unnecessary if QS told us exactly what they did but I wouldn’t bother waiting for that to happen.