This study aims to examine if there exists a relation between scholarly output and institutional ranking based on National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) of India. This paper also aims to analyze and compare the parameters of NIRF with those of leading world ranking university rankings.
The data for the study were collected through Web content analysis. The major parts of data were collected from the official websites of NIRF, Times Higher Education World University Rankings and QS World University rankings.
The study found that the parameters fixed for the assessment of Indian institutions under NIRF are par with those of other world university ranking agencies. Scholarly output of a university is one of the major parameters of university ranking schemes. Indian universities who scored high for research productivity came top in NIRF. These universities were also figured in world university rankings. Universities from South India excel in NIRF and there is a close relationship between scholarly productivity and institutional ranking.
Correlation between h-index and scholarly productivity has been dealt with in several studies. This paper is the first attempt to find the relationship between scholarly productivity and ranking of universities in India based on NIRF.
N.K., S., Mathew K., S. and Cherukodan, S. (2018), "Impact of scholarly output on university ranking", Global Knowledge, Memory and Communication, Vol. 67 No. 3, pp. 154-165. https://doi.org/10.1108/GKMC-11-2017-0087Download as .RIS
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Ranking of universities and institutions is a global phenomenon. The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) of the Institute of Higher Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University; the Times Higher Education World University Rankings of Times Higher Education (Times), UK; and QS World University Rankings of Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), UK are the best-known examples of world university ranking schemes. Rankings perform certain functions. It is a tool for measuring the effectiveness of higher education institutions (Shin et al., 2011). It may help allocate funding rationally, prioritize research and educational investment (Ioannidis et al., 2007), improve performance and quality of academic institutions (Aithal et al., 2016) and provide good, worldwide free publicity (Yerbury, 2006). Rankings help differentiate among diverse types of institutions and varied programs and disciplines (Harvey, 2008). It is also considered as a brand management exercise (Yeravdekar and Tiwari, 2017). It is obvious that students are increasingly using ranking results as a handy information tool for making decisions.
National governments have started ranking their institutions realizing the global trend. The Government of India introduced National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) in 2015 under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to rank its higher education institutions. As ranking brings information about the quality of universities and higher education systems (Docampo, 2013), NIRF was considered for infusion of quality and clarity toward building world-class educational institutions in India (Aithal et al., 2016) and for creating a performance culture and prepare Indian institutions for global rankings (Agarwal, 2017).
NIRF published its first ranking in April 2016, evaluating 3,563 institutions in the country who participated voluntarily. It was a discipline-specific ranking based on five parameters to identify 100 top institutions, each under four categories of institutes, namely, universities, engineering, management and pharmacy. In 2017, 2,995 institutions participated in the NIRF and an overall ranking of the best 100 from all categories of institutes was released. Now NIRF ranking has become a concern of every academic institution in India. Institutes that received top ranks in the NIRF publish the news on the front page of their website to attract students.
The NIRF 2017 participants included 232 universities, 1,024 engineering institutions, 546 management institutions, 318 pharmacy institutions and 637 general degree colleges and others. When compared to the vast quantity of higher education institutions in India, the rate of NIRF participation was estimated to be 6 per cent. The reasons behind this low turnout are attributed to lack of awareness, lack of documentation and non-eligibility as per criteria. The NIRF 2017 provided a common overall rank of best institutes in the country across all disciplines apart from a discipline-specific rank. It was found that some of the institutes that became top in NIRF also found a place in World University rankings. This may be because of the similarity of ranking parameters of national and world ranking process. In this respect, it is appropriate to understand the ranking parameters of NIRF and world university rankings. The geographical distribution of top ranked universities is another area of interest for a vast country like India. On a preliminary examination it was revealed that the universities that received top position in the NIRF and world university rankings have more scholarly articles to their credit. This triggered further examination to establish the correlation between scholarly output and institutional ranking. Hence, this study is attempted from the following perceptions:
Examine the parameters of NIRF and world university rankings.
Identify the top universities in India in NIRF ranking and world university rankings.
Analyze geographical distribution of NIRF ranked universities and their types.
Examine the scholarly output of NIRF ranked universities and understand the correlation between research productivity and position in ranking.
Examine the role of the library and library professionals in influencing ranking process.
The data for the study were collected through Web content analysis. Web content analysis is the application of traditional content analysis techniques to the Web (Herring, 2009).The major parts of data were collected from the official websites of NIRF, Times Higher Education World University Rankings and QS World University Ranking. The study covered NIRF Ranking 2017, Times World Universities Ranking 2016-2017, BRICS & Emerging Economies University Rankings and the QS world university rankings 2017. The study is limited to the university-wise ranking of NIRF. The NIRF provides for ranking of institutes in five broad generic parameters:
teaching, learning and resources (TLR);
research and professional practice (RP);
graduation outcome (GO);
outreach and inclusivity; and
The NIRF reaches an overall ranking of universities calculating the separate score for five parameters. The data regarding the research productivity of top hundred universities were gathered from score for RP. The RP parameter was formulated based on four factors, namely, combined metric for publications (PU); combined metric for quality of publications (QP); Intellectual Property Right (IPR) and patents filed, published, granted and licensed (IPR) and footprint of projects; and professional practice and executive development programs (FPPP). RP carries 100 marks and a ranking weight of 0.30. The major share (70 per cent) of RP score comes from the number of publications and the number of citations over a period of three preceding years. For this data, NIRF depends on sources like Web of Science, Scopus, PUBMED, FT45, Indian Citation Index, Incite and SciVal.
Review of related studies
Scholars have explored different aspects of institutional ranking. They identified both benefits and drawbacks of existing ranking system and put suggestions for improving them. A study (Ioannidis et al., 2007) attempted to compare Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and found that both the systems are of composite nature suffering from lack of scientific credibility which would harm science and education. Buela-Casal et al. (2007) compared four international rankings and observed a growing international convergence on the measurement of academic quality based primarily on research and production and on academic reputation. Liu & Cheng (2005) observed that any ranking exercise was controversial, and no ranking was absolutely objective. Aguillo et al. (2010) compared the five world university rankings (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Times Higher Education Supplement, Web Ranking of World Universities by the Cybermetrics Lab, Higher Education and Accreditation Council of Taiwan and Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University) using a set of similarity measures and found that there are reasonable similarities between the rankings, even though each applied a different methodology. They noticed high similarities between citation-based measures. Docampo (2013) discussed the difficulties that arise when trying to reproduce the results of the Shanghai ARWU. Ranking was perceived as giving insights on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges of institutions (Aithal, Shailashree and Kumar, 2016). Huang (2012) explored the validity of the h-index in the assessment of research performance at the university level. His study found that a high correlation exists between the h-index ranking generated in the study and that produced by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Altbach (2013) noted that global rankings give more emphasis to research productivity than other indicators. It is because research is the easiest and reliable indicator to measure. Salmi (2011) recognized that research-focused universities are getting top positions in world rankings. Mukherjee (2017) noticed that NIRF ranking in India gave maximum weightage to research and professional practice. The institutions are ranked based mainly on the number of publications as found in international databases. He doubted that the research output would reflect the research performance of an institution. We need further examination on the correlation between scholarly outputs and institutional ranking, as scholars have left this area unattended.
Types of universities and their representation in National Institutional Ranking Framework
The University Grants Commission (UGC) is the apex body of higher education in India vested with the responsibilities of providing funds, as well as coordination, determination and maintenance of standards. As per the UGC, as of June 2017, there are 813 universities in India with a distribution of 47 central universities, 365 state universities, 122 deemed universities and 279 private universities. Central universities are established by an Act of Parliament and are under the purview of the Central Government in terms of funding and governance. State universities are established and run by the state governments in India which receive fund both from the state and central government. Private universities are institutions run by educational bodies and trusts under state legislation and approved by the UGC. A deemed university is an accreditation awarded to a higher educational institution to enjoy academic status and privileges of a university. The four types of Indian universities are visible in the NIRF with varying degree of representation.
The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, a deemed university bagged the first position in NIRF 2017 with overall rank of 83.28 followed by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) with 61.53 and Banaras Hindu University (BHU) with 58.92. Both JNU and BHU are central universities. IISc has been the top university from India in almost all world university rankings. As per data available in Scopus, IISc is top among Indian universities in terms of number of scholarly articles. The distribution of NIRF rank among the various types of universities in India is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1 reveals that nearly 31 per cent of deemed universities were ranked by NIRF. The central universities could contribute 30 per cent of their total numbers. State universities come up with a share of 11 per cent and private universities with a meager share of 2 per cent in NIRF. The reasons of representation and non-representation of various types of universities in NIRF can be attributed to several factors ranging from finance to facilities. Scholars can attempt further studies on this area.
State-wise distribution of top ranked universities
The examination of NIRF ranking will give a picture of geographical distribution of universities which helps to analyze state-wise/union territory-wise representation of NIRF-ranked institutions. There are 29 states and 7 union territories in India. Figure 2 shows the state-wise distribution of universities in NIRF. The figure includes only states having four or more than four universities.
Figure 2 revealed that 24 per cent of the total 100 ranked universities belong to a single state of Tamil Nadu in India. It is a state from the southern part of India having a total number of 52 universities. The state of Karnataka and Maharashtra contributed eight universities each to the NIRF followed by Andhra Pradesh and Utter Pradesh with seven each and West Bengal and Kerala with five universities each. Assam, Punjab and Rajasthan could figure in the list with four universities each. All other states have less than four numbers of universities. Out of 29 states in India, universities from eight states – Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand – could not appear in the NIRF ranking. The southern states of India – Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh and Telangana – together contributed 46 per cent of NIRF-ranked universities.
Parameters of National Institutional Ranking Framework and world university rankings
All ranking schemes set forth parameters for the recognition of learning, teaching and research by universities. The position of a university in the ranking may be changed because of the changes in parameters. Hence it is important to examine parameters of the World University ranking and NIRF to find similarity and differences. The data on parameters collected using content analysis is given in Table I.
Table I shows that all the three rankings have similar parameters with slightly varying weightage. The major component of NIRF and Times is focused on teaching, learning and resources, while the QS ranking primarily emphasizes on academic reputation. Academic reputation means the place where the best work in a subject field is carried out. NIRF, Times and QS ranking agree on the research parameter. While NIRF collected data on research output and citations from Web of Science, Scopus and Indian Citation Index, both Times and QS world university ranking depended on Scopus database for this data. The parameters graduate outcome in NIRF, International outlook in Times ranking and employer reputation in QS ranking correspond to the same idea. They denote the ability of a university to produce best graduates. The outreach and inclusivity parameter in NIRF ranking, international students outlook in Times ranking and international student ratio in QS ranking go similar. It denotes diversity in student community. The parameters perception in NIRF, research volume and reputation in Times ranking and employer reputation in QS ranking resemble identical ideas. They cover the peer and public perception. From this analysis, it is evident that the parameters adopted by NIRF go in hand with those of world university rankings.
Indian universities in world universities ranking
The Times World Universities Ranking 2016-2017 ranked 980 institutions across the globe. From India 31 institutions found a place in the ranking that included 22 universities, seven IITs and two engineering institutes. The BRICS & Emerging Economies University Rankings is also done by Times Higher Education. It includes institutions in countries classified as advanced emerging, secondary emerging or frontier including the BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It ranked a total of 300 institutions. From India, 27 institutions including19 universities, seven IITs and one engineering institute found a place in the BRICS ranking. Table II shows the 22 universities from India in the Times World university ranking and their status on the BRICKS and NIRF ranking.
Table II reveals that 18 universities simultaneously found a place in the Times World ranking, BRICS ranking and NIRF. In total, 21 universities simultaneously found a place in Times World Ranking and NIRF. The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research that figured both in Times and BRICS did not appear in the NIRF 2017 because of its nonparticipation in the voluntary choice. Table II also discloses that SASTRA University, Sathyabama University and SRM University did not find a place in BRICS ranking.
Impact of scholarly output and ranking
The second parameter of NIRF “research and professional practice” (RP) measures scholarly output of institutions. RP is divided into four sub heads, namely, combined metrics for publications (PU); combined metrics for quality of publications (QP); IPR and patents filed, published, granted and licensed (IPR) and foot print of projects; and professional practice and executive development programs (FPPP). RP is measured as follows: RP = PU(30) + QP(40) + IPR(15) + FPPP(15). Hence, 70 marks out of 100 are calculated for the scholarly productivity. The authors attempted to study if universities with more RP score get top positions in NIRF. The NIRF has given parameter-wise rank of all universities. From this data, it is revealed that majority of the universities with top overall rank have also secured more scores in RP parameter. The first 20 universities ranked on the basis of RP score have also secured the first 16 positions of NIRF ranking. The Punjab University, The Institute of Chemical Technology, Bharathiar University and SASTRA are the four universities that come within 20 in terms of RP scores and went out of the first 20 ranks of NIRF. However, these universities bagged positions within 33 ranks in NIRF. The 22 universities being ranked from India in both Times World University Ranking and BRICKS of 2017 were having high RP scores in NIRF.
Research and professional practice score and correlation
Correlation is used for examining the relationship between two quantitative variables. Pearson’s correlation test was applied to establish the correlation between scholarly output and ranking. Pearson’s correlation coefficient for continuous data ranges from −1 to +1. Positive correlation indicates that both variables increase or decrease together, whereas negative correlation indicates that as one variable increases, so the other decreases, and vice versa. RP scores of the 100 universities were examined from the NIRF data. Similarly, the overall NIRF scores of the 100 universities were identified. RP-based NIRF ranking table is given in Appendix. To study the relationship between the two variables – RP score and overall NIRF Score – a scatter plot of the variables is drawn to check for linearity. The nearer the scatter of points is to a straight line, the higher the strength of relation between the variables. A significant Pearson’s correlation coefficient 0.821 with linear correlation was obtained for the data (Figure 3). The high correlation implies the relation between RP score and overall NIRF score of universities. This proves that scholarly output of universities is a significant factor in the NIRF ranking
Role of the library in influencing ranking process
The findings that scholarly output and institutional ranking is closely related will be important to the field of library and information science. Libraries usually support scholars in their various needs of information. Libraries incidentally influence the process of scholarly output through their collection and services. However, they were not directly involved in the process of producing literature. The process and popularity of ranking of universities give them a new role. They can influence the production of scholarly literature through a variety of programs. It may include the selection and purchase of databases from reputed publishers, joining consortiums to overcome financial burdens, offering document delivery services to scholars, organizing author workshops in association with publishers and pioneers in the field, offering training on academic writing, institutional ranking process, online tools for research, Scopus, Web of Science, google scholar, google books, h-index, citation pattern and plagiarism.
Ranking of universities will be an unceasing process in a world that values quality and competition. Global rankings paved the way for localization in institutional ranking by national governments. Global ranking parameters are being adopted for national ranking systems like NIRF. The number of scholarly articles by a university and the number of citations received for the articles are important measures in global and national rankings. The role of libraries in supporting research and scholarly productivity has been well established. Libraries can also take an active role in supporting the parent institution in achieving top position in national and global rankings through arranging focused programs.
Parameters of NIRF, Times and QS ranking
|Rankings||Parameters (Weightage of marks in brackets)||Total|
|NIRF||Teaching, learning and resources (TLR) (0.30)||Research and professional practice (0.30)||Graduation outcomes (0.20)||Outreach and inclusivity (0.10)||Perception (0.10)||100|
|Times Higher Education World university rankings||Teaching (the learning environment) (30%)||Research (volume, income and reputation) (30%)||Citations (research influence) (3%)||International outlook (staff, students and research) (7.5%)||Industry Income (knowledge transfer) (2.5%)||100|
|QS World university rankings||Academic reputation (40%)||Employer reputation (10%)||Student-to- faculty ratio (20%)||Citations per faculty (20%)||International faculty ratio (5%) and international student ratio (5%)||100|
Indian universities in Times World Universities ranking, BRICS and NIRF
|Serial No.||Name of the university||Times World University rankings||BRICKS ranking||NIRF ranking|
|1||Indian Institute of Science||201-250||14||1|
|3||Aligarh Muslim University||601-800||157||11|
|4.||Birla Institute of Technology and Science||601-800||196||13|
|5||University of Calcutta||601-800||179||16|
|6||University of Delhi||601-800||109||8|
|8||Savitribai Phule Pune University||601-800||143||10|
|9||Sri Venkateswara University||601-800||186||42|
|10||Tata Institute of Fundamental Research||601-800||107||NIL*|
|12||Acharya Nagarjuna University||801+||201-250||101-150|
|16||Cochin University of Science and Technology||801+||251-300||86|
|17||Maharaja Sayajirao University||801+||251-300||151-200|
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research has not participated in NIRF
RPC-based NIRF ranking – 2017
|Serial No.||Name of the university||RPC score||RPC rank||Overall score||Overall rank|
|1||Indian Institute of Science Bangalore||87.59||1||83.28||1|
|2||University of Delhi||56.61||2||55.37||8|
|5||Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research||51.93||5||58.25||4|
|6||Banaras Hindu University||49.96||6||58.92||3|
|8||Vellore Institute of Technology||42.87||8||51.36||14|
|9||University of Hyderabad||42.77||9||56.3||7|
|11||Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham||39.49||11||54.7||9|
|12||Institute of Chemical Technology||36.82||12||44.95||25|
|13||Aligarh Muslim University||36.2||13||52.74||11|
|15||Savitribai Phule Pune University||35.03||15||52.81||10|
|16||Jawaharlal Nehru University||33.96||16||61.53||2|
|17||Indian Agricultural Research Institute||33.6||17||51.2||15|
|18||Birla Institute of Technology and Science – Pilani||31.26||18||51.46||13|
|19||Shanmugha Arts Science Technology & Research Academy (SASTRA)||31.09||19||43.5||32|
|20||Manipal Academy of Higher Education-Manipal||29.31||20||48.27||18|
|21||University of Madras||29.26||21||41.85||41|
|24||Jamia Millia Islamia||27.99||24||51.75||12|
|29||Madurai Kamraj University||25.87||29||36.04||77|
|30||Guru Nanak Dev University||25.31||30||35.83||80|
|32||S.R.M Institute of Science and Technology||25.07||32||43.07||34|
|33||Sri Venkateswara University||24.43||33||41.48||42|
|35||Bharath Institute of Higher Education and Research||23.12||35||46.45||21|
|36||Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology||22.17||36||41.3||44|
|39||Vel Tech Rangarajan Dr Sagunthala R&D Institute of Science and Technology||20.13||39||37.13||65|
|43||University of Allahabad||17.9||43||33.86||95|
|45||University of Jammu||17.36||45||37.23||63|
|46||Siksha`O` Anusandhan University||17.17||46||46.72||20|
|49||University of Kashmir||16.74||49||36.32||73|
|50||Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana||16.51||50||44.99||24|
|51||Cochin University of Science and Technology||16.39||51||35.42||86|
|52||Mahatma Gandhi University||15.3||52||36.79||67|
|53||The Gandhigram Rural Institute - Deemed University||15.06||53||34.56||91|
|54||Karunya Institute of Technology and Sciences-Coimbatore||14.77||54||36.44||71|
|56||Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University||14.29||57||35.6||82|
|57||Sri Ramachandra University||14.1||58||42.46||39|
|58||Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University||14.03||59||33.44||99|
|60||Jaypee University of Information Technology-Solan||13.92||61||34.14||93|
|61||Jaypee Institute of Information Technology||13.91||62||35.69||81|
|64||Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology||12.75||69||40.47||49|
|65||Tamil Nadu Agricultural University||12.56||70||48.84||17|
|67||North Eastern Hill University||11.83||74||40.51||48|
|68||Saveetha Institute of Medical and Technical Sciences||11.81||75||38.68||55|
|70||Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology||11.63||78||43.06||35|
|71||Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeshwara University||10.32||82||41.18||45|
|72||Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University||10.08||83||40.1||50|
|75||Shiv Nadar University||9.43||87||37.95||60|
|76||Karpagam Academy of Higher Education||8.94||91||34.86||90|
|77||Symbiosis International University||8.92||92||37.67||61|
|79||Homi Bhabha National Institute||8.75||95||46.45||21|
|80||Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies -Mumbai||8.45||97||33.6||98|
|82||Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management (GITAM)||8.2||99||35.09||89|
|83||Sri Krishnadevaraya University||7.72||100||33.76||96|
|84||TATA Institute of Social Sciences||6.59||107||43.71||31|
|85||Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University||6.36||110||42.48||38|
|86||B.S. Abdur Rahman Institute of Science and Technology||6.33||111||32.99||100|
|87||Dayalbagh Educational Institute||6.21||112||36.36||72|
|88||Anand Agricultural University||5.89||115||42.26||40|
|91||Dr D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth Pune||4.9||126||40.59||47|
|92||KLE Academy of Higher Education and Research||4.9||126||37.25||62|
|94||Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth Mahatma Gandhi Medical College Campus||4.67||130||35.5||83|
|95||Dr Y.S.Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry||4.39||133||39.54||51|
|96||Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning||3.64||144||36.75||69|
|97||Rajiv Gandhi University||3.43||148||36.15||76|
|98||Meenakshi Academy of Higher Education and Research||2.75||155||36.47||70|
|99||Rajasthan University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences||1.52||174||36.78||68|
|100||Sri Venkateswara Veterinary University||1.04||180||35.92||78|
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