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Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics

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ESEP 13:193-202 (2014)  -  DOI:

Global university reputation and rankings: insights from culturomics

Konstantinos I. Stergiou1,2,*, Athanassios C. Tsikliras1

1Laboratory of Ichthyology, Department of Zoology, School of Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, UP Box 134, 541 24 Thessaloniki, Greece
2Institute of Marine Biological Resources and Inland Waters, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Aghios Kosmas, 16777 Athens, Greece
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: In this study, we used culturomics (i.e. analysis of large electronic datasets for the study of human culture) in order to study the use of the names of various universities in the digitized corpus of English books. In particular, we used the Google Ngram viewer (available online: to produce the frequencies of the names of 13 US, 5 UK and 4 Canadian universities in the English books and examined how these frequencies changed with time (1800 to 2008). We further used these frequencies to establish reputation rankings for these universities. Our results showed that Ngram is an easy-and-cheap-to-apply tool to approximate the reputation and ‘intellectual’ impact of universities over long time periods. Its reputation-generating capability, at least for top universities, is not worse than the within- and between-system capabilities of commercial tools (i.e. QS, THE and THE World Reputation Rankings). Ngram can, thus, be promising at least for students (and their families), who make choices that are affected by rankings, providing them with additional benefits (e.g. perception of the historical impact of a university) when compared to the short-term, volatile annual commercial rankings.

KEY WORDS: Global university rankings · University reputation · Google Ngram · Culturomics · QS · THE · Reputation rankings

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Cite this article as: Stergiou KI, Tsikliras AC (2014) Global university reputation and rankings: insights from culturomics. Ethics Sci Environ Polit 13:193-202.

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