Shanghai Ranking

Key Facts

Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) 

Published bySelection Criteria

Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China

Universities with: Nobel Prize or Fields Medal winners, highly cited researchers (WoS indicator), publications in Nature and Science, a significant number of indexed publications (SSCI and SCI, WoS).
The top 500 universities are listed.
Data Basis & Methodology Indicators
Thomson Reuters, Web of Science (WoS)

Secondary analysis of already present data (list of prize winners, list of Nobel Prize winners), bibliometric analysis based on indexes by Thomson Reuters, Web of Science (WoS)
Quality of teaching
- Nobel Prizes / Fields Medals earned by alumni 10%
Quality of researchQ

- Nobel Prizes / Fields Medals earned by UZH researchers 20%
- Highly cited researchers (HiCi) 20%
Research output
- Publications in Nature und Science 20%
- Number of articles in WoS 20%
Performance per capita

- Values of the 5 indicators above, measured by the number of employees 10%


The Shanghai ranking is limited to very few criteria, and these are often contested. It is particularly questionable that the number of Nobel Prizes held by alumni is a major indicator for the quality of teaching.

Nobel Prizes

The quality of research at an institution of higher learning is measured by the number of Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals; these indicators make up 30% of the overall ranking.
It is highly problematic that these prizes only recognize achievements in a narrow field of disciplines. Excellent achievements in many natural and social sciences – and especially in the arts and humanities – fall under the radar.
An additional problem is that these prizes were generally awarded decades ago. When considering Nobel Prizes awarded to alumni – whose student days are even farther in the past – the proxy becomes even less relevant. Clearly, the number of Nobel Prizes awarded does not make a conclusive statement about current research excellence. Yet another negative side effect of using this parameter is that older universities are generally at a greater advantage, as it is unlikely that a newly established university can quickly catch up on the number of Nobel Prize winners it educates or employs.

Thomson Reuters is source of data

Many critics point out that the data basis used by Thomson Reuters (Web of Science) is not representative of research achievements in many disciplines: the database contains only a limited type of publication (mainly articles in journals), while completely ignoring other important publications (e.g. monographs). Furthermore, journals and publications in English are heavily favored, with the result that research achievements in other languages are underrepresented. Finally, the indexes in the database disregard differences in publishing practices in the various disciplines.

Per capita performance

The Shanghai Ranking also only makes an adjustment of 10% for the size of a university. In 90% of all assessments, big, well-connected universities are at a major advantage when measuring research output.


UZH believes the Shanghai Ranking does not live up to its own goal of making an objective assessment of universities. Its small number of highly problematic indicators and its non-representative bibliometric basis reduce the value of the results and, consequently, of any statements regarding the quality of research and teaching at universities.