I have a lot of professors, and I want to have a way to know how respected and successful academically speaking each one of them is.

The reason is that some professors talk very highly about themselves and it seems that they are very good at what they do but I suspect it sometimes isn’t the case. I want to go work at the summer in the university under some professor and I want to try to get accepted my someone who really does interesting things.

I tried searching for a professor rank system or something similar online but I didn’t find anything. Does some ranking system even exists?

I also tried looking on the published papers of some professor, I saw a lot of papers but how can I know if they are of quality or low level and meaningless.


  • 3
    You could check the journals they publish in and research their reputation. Furthermore, you can look at their students and what they are doing now (e.g. "80% of the PhD students of Prof A are now working in a high position in the industry or at a university") and, if available, you can read their theses to see if the professor encourages high quality work in his students.
    – Dirk
    Nov 23, 2017 at 11:03
  • 1
    There are some apparently objective rankings (like the H-index, which is based on citation counts), but these are too different between different sub-fields and too age-specific to be meaningful in such comparison. Generally, you can expect that the professors at your university will be in the same order of magnitude regarding academic success. Professors are hired by a committee which basically consists of other professors, and it's unlikely that a group of top professors would hire a non-top candidate. Nov 23, 2017 at 11:06
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    You read the papers not to find out if their research is interesting to them (it probably is) or others, but to find out if it is interesting to YOU. I can work with a well respected and successful person and be bored to death because we do not share the same interests. I have worked with people some others would have called "low level" and had a great time and great results, because out approaches and interests just fit and created a great environment for success.
    – skymningen
    Nov 23, 2017 at 11:20
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    "some professors talk very highly about themselves" My experience is that this tends to be inversely related to their true prestige (whatever that might mean). Although counterexamples to this are common, I think it's a good rule of thumb until you know more about the person. Nov 23, 2017 at 19:03
  • 3
    Echoing @DaveLRenfro: Regardless of their actual level of success, someone who speaks highly of themselves is most likely a jerk that you want to avoid. If you want to know how interesting their work is, read their papers, and see if you find it interesting. If you want to know how successful their work is, look up citations to their papers to see how they're cited, not just how often. But remember that success is neither necessary nor sufficient for being interesting.
    – JeffE
    Nov 23, 2017 at 20:44

1 Answer 1


Since there are no answers yet, I'll try to combine the excellent comments into an answer.

  • First of all, someone speaking highly of themself is a bit suspicious.
  • You should read their papers - if you are unable to judge whether they are relevant, check how often they are cited.
  • You could check the H-Index, but since most indexes accumulate points overt ime, older persons are having an andvantage

Most probably, it does not make too much of a difference how good the reputation of your professor is as long as you are getting good guidance. Ask former students how good the support was and how interesting the topics were.

  • +1 for the final paragraph. If you are an undergraduate, you can be well taught by someone who does little research as long as they can teach you the subject at the level you then need to learn it. Later, the rest becomes more important.
    – Buffy
    Dec 26, 2018 at 0:23
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    I guess I need to note that Feynman had a pretty high (and well deserved) opinion of himself. So it isn't necessarily an indicator. There are many other examples. But some of these self important but highly skilled masters are personally insufferable. Not all, though.
    – Buffy
    Dec 26, 2018 at 0:27

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