University rankings: What do they really show? | SpringerLink

Author: Jill Johnes

Comment: This article highlights some issues with university rankings using correlation analysis and principal component analysis. Furthermore, it suggests an alternative weighting method that uses data envelopment analysis (DEA) that allows the weights to be optimised for individual institutions. DEA can further be used to derive performance groupings, rather than the usual point estimates. The ideas in this article are closely related to some of the discussions we  already had in the research team. Perhaps we may want to consider our data representation/aggregation along something like this, but with further specified min weight for each indicator?

Abstract: University rankings as developed by the media are used by many stakeholders in higher education: students looking for university places; academics looking for university jobs; university managers who need to maintain standing in the competitive arena of student recruitment; and governments who want to know that public funds spent on universities are delivering a world class higher education system. Media rankings deliberately draw attention to the performance of each university relative to all others, and as such they are undeniably simple to use and interpret. But one danger is that they are potentially open to manipulation and gaming because many of the measures underlying the rankings are under the control of the institutions themselves. This paper examines media rankings (constructed from an amalgamation of variables representing performance across numerous dimensions) to reveal the problems with using a composite index to reflect overall performance. It ends with a proposal for an alternative methodology which leads to groupings rather than point estimates.

Source: University rankings: What do they really show? | SpringerLink

The Inevitability of Open Access | Lewis | College & Research Libraries

Author: David W. Lewis

Comment: This is an interesting article to contrast results we see for gold OA. The article predicted, using business theory, that gold OA would reach 50% between 2017 and 2021, and 90% by 2025. This of course contradicts the saturation (if correct) that we see in gold OA (outside Latin America).

Abstract: Open access (OA) is an alternative business model for the publication of scholarly journals. It makes articles freely available to readers on the Internet and covers the costs associated with publication through means other than subscriptions. This article argues that Gold OA, where all of the articles of a journal are available at the time of publication, is a disruptive innovation as defined by business theorist Clayton Christensen. Using methods described by Christensen, we can predict the growth of Gold OA. This analysis suggests that Gold OA could account for 50 percent of the scholarly journal articles sometime between 2017 and 2021, and 90 percent of articles as soon as 2020 and more conservatively by 2025.

Source: The Inevitability of Open Access | Lewis | College & Research Libraries

Executive power and scaled-up gender subtexts in Australian entrepreneurial universities: Gender and Education: Vol 27, No 3

Authors: Jill Blackmore and  Naarah Sawers, 2015

Comment: This 3 year ARC funded study researched higher echelons of management in three self-identified “entrpreneurial’ Australian universities. They identified gender “subtexts” in the restructuring of universities to meet global markets rather than a national focus, with emphases on science and technology in research, management and obsession with rankings. Despite better gender equality overall, more women are in casual positions with difficulties reaching tenured and leadership positions.

Deputy Vice Chancellor and Pro Vice Chancellor positions have proliferated in response to the global, corporatised university landscape [Scott, G., S. Bell, H. Coates, and L. Grebennikov. 2010. “Australian Higher Education Leaders in Times of Change: The Role of Pro Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor.” Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 32 (4): 401–418]. Senior leadership is the sphere where academic and management identities are negotiated and values around the role of the university are decided. This paper examines the changing and gendered nature of the senior leadership setting and its implications for diversity in and of university leadership. The analysis draws from a three-year empirical study funded by the Australian Research Council on leadership in Australian universities. It focuses on executive leaders in three universities – one which is research-intensive, the second, in a regional site, and the third, university of technology. The article argues that the university landscape and its management systems are being restructured in gendered ways. It utilises the notion of organisational gender subtexts to make explicit how gender works through structural and cultural reform.


Source: Executive power and scaled-up gender subtexts in Australian entrepreneurial universities: Gender and Education: Vol 27, No 3

Caught at the crossroads?

Authors: Laurence Hopkins and Viola Salvestrini for the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UK), November 2018

Notes: Report examining pay disparities across three broad groups in UK academia (black, asian, white) and with respect to gender. Finds significant disparities that are more significant than gender gaps and that gender gap in pay is greatest for white staff. Differences are seen across academic and professional staff but the differences are greater when academic staff alone are considered.

Abstract: Caught at the crossroads? An intersectional approach to gender and ethnicity pay gaps takes an ‘intersectional’ approach to pay gaps by looking at ethnicity and gender together, rather than in isolation. The report shows that ‘pay penalties’ for ethnic minority groups are significant, with Black men and Black women earning the least on average relative to White men. The report includes recommendations for employers to consider when looking at gender and ethnicity pay gaps and when developing action plans.

Source: Caught at the crossroads? – Publications

Google Scholar to overshadow them all? Comparing the sizes of 12 academic search engines and bibliographic databases | SpringerLink

Google Scholar to overshadow them all? Comparing the sizes of 12 academic search engines and bibliographic databases

Author: Michael Gusenbauer

Notes: An interesting study using a search term strategy to examine the size of databases. Wondering whether something analagous can be used to estimate the size of sets based on partial data. Here they use a range of searches from single letters and numbers through to common words to estimate the scale of various databases. They find Google Scholar is significantly larger in terms of search results.

Abstract: Information on the size of academic search engines and bibliographic databases (ASEBDs) is often outdated or entirely unavailable. Hence, it is difficult to assess the scope of specific databases, such as Google Scholar. While scientometric studies have estimated ASEBD sizes before, the methods employed were able to compare only a few databases. Consequently, there is no up-to-date comparative information on the sizes of popular ASEBDs. This study aims to fill this blind spot by providing a comparative picture of 12 of the most commonly used ASEBDs. In doing so, we build on and refine previous scientometric research by counting query hit data as an indicator of the number of accessible records. Iterative query optimization makes it possible to identify a maximum number of hits for most ASEBDs. The results were validated in terms of their capacity to assess database size by comparing them with official information on database sizes or previous scientometric studies. The queries used here are replicable, so size information can be updated quickly. The findings provide first-time size estimates of ProQuest and EbscoHost and indicate that Google Scholar’s size might have been underestimated so far by more than 50%. By our estimation Google Scholar, with 389 million records, is currently the most comprehensive academic search engine.

Gusenbauer, Michael. 2018. “Google Scholar to Overshadow Them All? Comparing the Sizes of 12 Academic Search Engines and Bibliographic Databases.” Scientometrics, November.

Source: Google Scholar to overshadow them all? Comparing the sizes of 12 academic search engines and bibliographic databases | SpringerLink

Empirical analysis and classification of database errors in Scopus and Web of Science – ScienceDirect

Authors: Franceschini F, Maisano D & Mastrogiacomo L

Comment: This is an article studying various errors in Scopus and Web of Science (WoS) databases. These include citation indexing errors, missing links, missing DOIs, incorrect author names, etc. Manual check was done on a sample of errors. After classification of errors, it found that the distributions of errors were very different between Scopus and WoS.

Abstract: In the last decade, a growing number of studies focused on the qualitative/quantitative analysis of bibliometric-database errors. Most of these studies relied on the identification and (manual) examination of relatively limited samples of errors.

Using an automated procedure, we collected a large corpus of more than 10,000 errors in the two multidisciplinary databases Scopus and Web of Science (WoS), mainly including articles in the Engineering-Manufacturing field. Based on the manual examination of a portion (of about 10%) of these errors, this paper provides a preliminary analysis and classification, identifying similarities and differences between Scopus and WoS.

The analysis reveals interesting results, such as: (i) although Scopus seems more accurate than WoS, it tends to forget to index more papers, causing the loss of the relevant citations given/obtained, (ii) both databases have relatively serious problems in managing the so-called Online-First articles, and (iii) lack of correlation between databases, regarding the distribution of the errors in several error categories.

The description is supported by practical examples concerning a variety of errors in the Scopus and WoS databases.

Source: Empirical analysis and classification of database errors in Scopus and Web of Science – ScienceDirect

Dimensions: A competitor to Scopus and the Web of Science? – ScienceDirect

Author: Mike Thelwall

Comment: This articles compares samples of data from Scopus with Dimensions. It found that the citation counts in Dimensions are in line with those obtained in Scopus. The slightly lower numbers in citations give indication that the coverage of Dimensions may not be much greater than that of Scopus. Although, this is not explicitly checked.

Abstract: Dimensions is a partly free scholarly database launched by Digital Science in January 2018. Dimensions includes journal articles and citation counts, making it a potential new source of impact data. This article explores the value of Dimensions from an impact assessment perspective with an examination of Food Science research 2008–2018 and a random sample of 10,000 Scopus articles from 2012. The results include high correlations between citation counts from Scopus and Dimensions (0.96 by narrow field in 2012) as well as similar average counts. Almost all Scopus articles with DOIs were found in Dimensions (97% in 2012). Thus, the scholarly database component of Dimensions seems to be a plausible alternative to Scopus and the Web of Science for general citation analyses and for citation data in support of some types of research evaluations.

Source: Dimensions: A competitor to Scopus and the Web of Science? – ScienceDirect

Gender equality in academia: a critical reflection: Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management: Vol 37, No 3

AUTHORS: Hilary P.M. Winchester & Lynette Browning, Central Queensland University

The article reviews growth in women academics in Australian universities from the 1980s to 2014 when overall percentage of women reached 44%. However, the share of women in senior positions is still lower (31%) than men’s.  The authors identify an under representation of women in research and research funding. The article includes and discusses milestones of legislation, policy, research and strategic programs,  strategies and frameworks that have worked.

Gender equality in academia has been monitored in Australia for the past three decades so it is timely to reflect on what progress has been made, what works, and what challenges remain. When data were first published on the gender composition of staff in Australian universities in the mid-1980s women comprised 20 per cent of academic staff and held 6 per cent of senior positions. Since the early 1990s many Australian universities have had policies in place to remove sex discrimination and initiatives to increase women’s representation in academia. Two decades on, women comprise 44 per cent of academic staff and hold 31 per cent of senior positions. How did this happen? What worked? Are there still challenges to be addressed? This paper provides a critical reflection on what has worked, the practical impacts on gender in academia in Australia and what challenges remain for the future.

Source: Gender equality in academia: a critical reflection: Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management: Vol 37, No 3

Does staff diversity imply openness to diversity? | International Journal of Educational Management | Vol 27, No 6

AUTHOR: Jakob Lauring, Jan Selmer; Aarhus University Denmark

COMMENT: This is a really interesting exploration and correlation of different dimensions of  staff diversity and openness to diversity in 3 large Danish universities. The authors differentiate between surface level, demographic diversity (age, gender) and deep-level, international diversity (cultural and linguistic) and found these had different associations with attitudes and openness to value, visible, informational and linguistic diversity in the workplace. Demographic diversity had a negative association whereas international diversity was more positive. Almost 3/4 of the respondents were male.


Post‐secondary educational organizations are currently some of the most diverse settings to be found. However, few educational studies have dealt with staff diversity and hardly any has looked outside the USA. The purpose of this paper is to present a study of members of international university departments in Denmark. The authors set out to investigate the relationship between different types of staff diversity and openness to diversity in terms of linguistic, visible, value, and informational heterogeneity.
This study uses responses from 489 staff members from diverse university departments to a self‐report electronic survey.
It was found that diversity‐related internationalization (cultural and linguistic) was generally positively related to favorable diversity attitudes. Inherent demographic diversity (age and gender), on the other hand, was unrelated or negatively associated with positive diversity attitudes.

Source: Does staff diversity imply openness to diversity? | International Journal of Educational Management | Vol 27, No 6 2013

Underrepresented & Underpaid Diversity & Equity Among Canada’s Post-Secondary Education Teachers

Canadian Association of University Teachers
Association canadienne des professeures et professeurs d’université

This reports on slow progress in equity and diversity in Canadian universities, particularly in the employment of “racialised minorities” and Aboriginal staff members, and wage differences. This is occurring despite equity and diversity policies in place. The report also notes limited availability of data and uses mostly Statistics Canada 2016 census data. Will be useful for Australian comparison.


While post-secondary institutions are publicly committed to equity and diversity, progress has been slow in achieving employment and wage equity for academic staff.
This report provides a snapshot of academic staff representation and income in Canada’s universities and colleges in 2016, noting in particular changes in the university sector over the last decade.
While available data is limited, it does reveal that the academic workforce is not as diverse as either the student body or the labour force. Evidence also shows significant wage gaps: between men and women; and between white, Aboriginal and racialized academic staff.