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209

Let me answer as a theoretical computer scientist with former PhD students in tenure-track academic positions and many years of experience on faculty hiring committees. (However, my understanding is that the selection process at industrial research labs like IBM T.J. Watson, Microsoft Research, Google Research, AT&T Research, etc., is really not that ...


114

Stop whining and start kicking ass. Work hard with faculty (and undergrads!) that you respect, do some awesome research, and then (if you are very lucky) move to a better department, either as a PhD student, a postdoc, or even a faculty member. Meanwhile, own your past mistakes, but forgive yourself for them. You put yourself in this situation, but ...


94

Your question is a bit circular. The "best" universities are at the top of the list because it's a list of the "best" universities -- however that is defined. :) What makes a "top" university is largely a rich-get-richer feedback loop: The "best" universities attract the "best" researchers, which makes them the "best" universities. The "best" researchers ...


92

Why do Russian and Israeli universities score low in various world rankings? What is the problem? And, why aren't they trying to improve the situation? As a researcher originally from a country in a similar situation (Austria - historically great, Nobel prize winning researchers - now all universities ranked in the far 3-digit range in most rankings), I ...


74

Yes, there is one and only one standard method that is universally employed by reputable academic institutions worldwide. This is how you evaluate a researcher: Read their papers. Attend one of their talks. Ask the opinion of other experts in the field. This is how hiring committees and promotion committees do their job. There are no shortcuts. Parts 1-...


52

People are occasionally hired by far more prestigious universities than the ones they studied at. For example, there's a tenured professor in the Princeton math department (unambiguously among the top 5 departments in the U.S.) who received his Ph.D. in 1999 from Kansas State (which wouldn't necessarily make the top 75). Where your degree is from is a ...


50

No, it's not worth paying $30 for an extended list of rankings in a discipline. Why not use more productive factors, such as: Who has the wider range of faculty working in areas that interest you? Where would you like to live as a grad student (in a city, a small town, etc.)? Does region of the country matter? How does your stipend compare to cost of living ...


46

None of them. At the postdoc level, you should already be familiar with the people and research groups in your field, at least at a basic level. Go where there is someone you want to work with, and maybe a good active research group, irrespective of the ranking of their university. That ranking could have been achieved because the university is great in a ...


44

The short answer is that it can matter fairly significantly in where you get your post-doctoral fellowship and eventual professorship, and it will matter very significantly if you choose to follow a career outside of academia. When looking for a job in academia, potential employers will look at many factors, including publication record, research success, ...


41

Very few computer scientists (or academics in general) think highly of any ranking system. The main reason for this is that rankings are pretty arbitrary, highly biased by personal opinion, and not super informative. There's very minimal feedback pressure on rankers to get it "really right," and there's no particular reason to think that they do. The ...


39

Money can indeed buy a lot of things that will move you up in rankings, though probably not all. It's true that you will be able to attract good faculty with money -- spent on salaries, research infrastructure, beautiful offices and spacious labs well equipped with machinery, several postdocs attached to each professor position, and maybe money to support (...


38

All of the schools that you are discussing are first-rank computer science schools with global leadership in their areas of specialty. In this area at least, the only real difference between the "top" and "top of the top" schools that you are considering is the number of different areas in which the school is a global leader. Thus, if you already have a ...


32

Ok 1st of all I think you're delusional about what you "think" you're missing out on. Everywhere you go, academia is a very independent vocation. That is, even at a top notch school, your peers probably wouldn't want to chit chat with you about physics much. They'd want to go do their own research. Life at a top notch institution isn't some all-day ...


31

The h-index is a measure of the impact of someone's publication list. An h-index of 10 for example means that the person has published 10 papers with at least 10 citations. The total number of papers published may be higher, but only 10 will have 10 or more citations. Critics argue that this measure disadvantages young researchers who did not have time to ...


29

Is there any reasonable way to use public data in order to sort them from best to worse? Not really. To start with, there isn't a remotely well-defined notion of ranking. For example, it depends on the subfield (some journals attract better papers in certain areas than others), it can vary over time, and it depends on the specific goals you have in mind. ...


27

Despite the absolutely excellent answers already written one huge issue goes unmentioned: Language. Let's examine the different factors accounting the QS ranking for example: QS Ranking methodology Academic reputation: Determined by a world wide survey, but even in a modern non-Russian eastern European country a researcher is more likely to know English (...


26

If one claimed that a particular scholar was "above average" or "noted" in their field, is there any good metric by which to support or deny such a claim? No. As a rule of thumb, this isn't the kind of thing that you can measure with a metric. Elvis Presley was the king of rock and roll. Why? Is it because he pumped out more albums than the others? Because ...


25

A PhD is often, a very lonely beast. I go to a "top" school but often, I feel that there is no one to discuss my work with at a high level other than my adviser. Often, I feel that everyone around me is much smarter than me and can contribute so much to my general academic knowledge just by having a high level discussion over coffee. This has nothing to do ...


25

The larger the workplace, and the more applicants they're responsible for screening, the more important a role the academic pedigree will end up playing. A small business with a handful of applicants—or a professor hiring a single postdoc—probably doesn't need to screen out candidates as efficiently or as ruthlessly as someone that gets dozens or hundreds of ...


24

This is a particularly difficult question for interdisciplinary research, because different fields have radically different citation customs and publication time-tables, which leads to the same impact factor meaning very different things. Impact factor also has numerous other problems. Moreover, absolute ranking of a journal is in many cases less important ...


23

The top ranked doctoral programs get the cream of each year's incoming graduate application pool because they can offer access to the top professors, top research libraries, and have tons of money to spend on tuition waivers, stipends, summer research money, etc. They can effectively outbid other programs and choose the people who seem to have the most ...


22

Unless you're independently wealthy I think it is always unwise to do an unfunded Ph.D. program. With the current academic market the way that it is, there's just no guarantee that you will get a good job with the Ph.D. that will allow you to quickly pay off your debt. There's also no guarantee that you'll get a Ph.D. at all. We're talking about over a ...


21

The big difficulty with devising formal ranking systems based on numerical measures is that, outside of a handful of areas like sports, anything we can measure is at best a proxy for what we really care about. It may start off as a pretty accurate reflection, but anyone judged on this basis will quickly discover how to manipulate it. For example, ...


21

Firstly, it has to be noted that overall rankings, by definition, paint a very rough picture due to averaging universities' key performance indicators (KPIs) across a variety of disciplines and fields of study. Since both Russia and Israel have a rich history of scientific achievements mostly in hard sciences (mathematics, physics, etc.), the overall nature ...


20

If the acceptance rate of a university is 90%, does that mean it accepts 90 students from 100 that applied? Yes. Does the acceptance rate of universities indicate the quality of them? No, not particularly. For example, it's possible to get a good education at an institution with open admissions. It's true that low acceptance rates are correlated with ...


20

An important factor is that "top" universities get more students applying, so they can be more selective about who they admit. Having talented students pushes up standards in general for a university. They are more interesting to teach, so teaching there is more attractive for lecturers, and they ask better questions.


19

I'll assume you are talking about tenure-track positions, due to the reference to an assistant professorship. If you are talking about postdocs, then it really depends on how your field works (e.g., how many such positions there are and how they are distributed among different types of universities). It's certainly possible to get a job in a much higher-...


18

There are many rankings available. For example, five minutes of Googling turns up the following. http://csrankings.org/ https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-science-schools/computer-science-rankings and https://www.usnews.com/education/best-global-universities/computer-science https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings-articles/...


17

Most answers here are good, but theoretical. I will try to complement them from the practical side, in particular tell about Russian universities. Undoubtedly, all rankings are biased. However, I do not think they are complete junk: the positions correlate with the quality of research and education undergoing within universities. In fact, it is not true ...


17

For the US, there is actually a fairly standardized answer, though it's complicated. The short version appears to be: Postdocs who teach count as 1/3 of a staff member. Postdocs who do not teach are not counted at all. First, note that the number usually used in the US is student-faculty ratio. (Not "staff": in US academic parlance, "staff" typically ...


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