Why Research Universities Should be Wary of Media Rankings

The Global Language Institute has started a new index that ranks universities by number of media mentions. Below is their top ten universities.

I have a few reservations and cautions about the significance of these rankings. At one level, having comparative benchmarks that provide at least some data about the media profile of the research conducted at universities is better than no data at all. However, there is the risk that these ranking reinforce the marketing and publicity trend among research universities, with science joining athletics as a part of the competitive branding of the university.

Instead of thinking of science communication as a publicity process, research universities need to make sure that they are instead thinking of science communication as an ongoing partnership and trust-building process. Science communication expert Rick Borchelt calls this process "managing the trust portfolio," a key approach he details in a recent book chapter in an excellent edited volume on science communication. (See also powerpoint).

1. Harvard University, MA
2 . Columbia University, NY
3 . University of Chicago, IL
4 . University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
5. Stanford University, CA
6. University of Wisconsin-Madison
7. Cornell University, NY
8 . Princeton University, NJ
9. Yale University, CT
10. University of California-Berkeley

Hat tip to Nanopublic.

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