I was wondering what it really matters for a university to climb in the university rankings, for example in Science fields such as Mathematics, Physics or Computer Science? I found that there are the following different services to let people know about lecturer's research in a Faculty:

  • Google Scholar, I believe that one can put here even articles not peer-reviewed
  • Scopus, the service indexed by Elsevier
  • WebofScience, I have not used directly, but I believe is somewhat like Scopus

But I believe that services like Google Scholar are like arXiv, in the way that one can put a link to any research paper that one has made irrelevant if it was a good conference or not.

It is not better to aim to conferences that would be indexed in Scopus, DBLP, or that will use Scimago to raise the score of an institucion?

So what is the recommendation in these cases, to try that the papers are indexed in well known sites or a new faculty should only aim to have web presence?

  • 4
    Are you asking about how to increase a program's ranking in a report like U.S. News, QS, and the like? This is not the same question as how to increase the visibility of the research.
    – ff524
    Jun 3, 2014 at 4:28
  • you are right I would like to increase the ranking of a program
    – Layla
    Jun 3, 2014 at 5:01
  • 6
    This entire text of this post seems to assume that a program's ranking is a direct result of how well publicized its faculty's research is, which is not at all the case.
    – ff524
    Jun 3, 2014 at 5:07
  • 2
    Get yourself a Nobel Prize awardee, rankings love a Nobel Prize awardee.
    – Cape Code
    Jun 3, 2014 at 14:29

2 Answers 2


As ff254 correctly mentions, you are asking two different questions. "Climbing the rankings" is sort of a science of its own, and making your research be more visible to the outside is only a very minor part of it. I am not an expert on ranking optimization (I am happy to say that university rankings are not particularly relevant where I work), but if you really want to noticeably improve the ranking of your faculty, serious money and management commitment will be required (and better consulting than is available in an Internet forum).

Now, assuming that you are really more interested in making your faculty internationally more well-known. I sort of disagree with Simmy that ResearchGate is a good vehicle to achieve this goal. At least in my community, ResearchGate is not considered a "serious" source at all. Nobody goes to ResearchGate to discover new researchers (and the technical Q&A forum there is a joke). People go to conferences to meet up and coming as well as established researchers. That is, if you as a new faculty want to improve your international visibility, you should:

  • Produce excellent research. This should be obvious, but having a bunch of mediocre papers listed in Scopus or DBLP will not make you stand out. One top paper will.
  • Go to as many reasonable conferences as you can. Skip on the spam ones (no interesting people will be there and publishing there will not help you in any way), but even smaller conferences usually have a lot of interesting professors in attendance. Definitely go to whatever the big conference in your field is, even if you do not have a paper to present.
  • Socialise. Don't be the person that just works all day in a silent corner of the conference room. Your task at the conference is not to write the next paper, but to get in touch with other researchers.
  • Have a nice-looking web page. Publish all your papers as preprints there. Plus points if you do nice write-ups of your published or ongoing research in a recurring blog.
  • (In some communities) have a Twitter account, and follow the big wigs and engage in discussions if appropriate.
  • My point about researchgate was as somewhere Layla could list papers and conference proceedings, since the question included suggestions of using google scholar or scopus. I did not mean for this to replace real life networking, in terms of going to conferences...that was not what the question seemed (to me) to be about. I thought Layla was asking about crediting works to the author and tracking citations/h-index--which in terms of promotion etc. are often important.
    – Simmy
    Jun 4, 2014 at 4:02

In terms of trying to increase ranking, there are ways to do it, but they're somewhat tangental to research visibility.

Informally, from talking to the people who worry about things like that, the easiest way to increase your ranking, like the easiest way to increase your journal's impact factor, is to realize that all rankings are algorithms that can be gamed. Pick an aspect of the ranking and maximize that.

For rankings based on peer surveys, this is somewhat more difficult, and is going to be a rather long slog.

  • My field is fairly new and is still quite small (specialized Criminology/Criminal Justice PhD programs started springing up in the 1960's, and there are prob only about 40 some odd programs that would be considered in any ranking). The programs that shot up the rankings fairly quickly were places that hired well known, senior faculty. So this suggests another (kind of gaming) option not listed so far; hire some very well known scholars in your field to increase the overall reputation of the department. This prob. has other benefits as well, such as improving recruitment of students.
    – Andy W
    Jun 3, 2014 at 14:35

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