, Volume 101, Issue 2, pp 1309–1324 | Cite as

An insight into the importance of national university rankings in an international context: the case of the I-UGR rankings of Spanish universities

  • Nicolás Robinson-García
  • Daniel Torres-Salinas
  • Emilio Delgado López-Cózar
  • Francisco Herrera


The great importance international rankings have achieved in the research policy arena warns against many threats consequence of the flaws and shortcomings these tools present. One of them has to do with the inability to accurately represent national university systems as their original purpose is only to rank world-class universities. Another one has to do with the lack of representativeness of universities’ disciplinary profiles as they usually provide a unique table. Although some rankings offer a great coverage and others offer league tables by fields, no international ranking does both. In order to surpass such limitation from a research policy viewpoint, this paper analyzes the possibility of using national rankings in order to complement international rankings. For this, we analyze the Spanish university system as a study case presenting the I-UGR Rankings for Spanish universities by fields and subfields. Then, we compare their results with those obtained by the Shanghai Ranking, the QS Ranking, the Leiden Ranking and the NTU Ranking, as they all have basic common grounds which allow such comparison. We conclude that it is advisable to use national rankings in order to complement international rankings, however we observe that this must be done with certain caution as they differ on the methodology employed as well as on the construction of the fields.


Universities Spain International rankings National rankings Research evaluation 



Thanks are due to the two anonymous referees for their helpful comments. Nicolás Robinson-García is currently supported by a FPU Grant from the Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia of the Spanish Government.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicolás Robinson-García
    • 1
  • Daniel Torres-Salinas
    • 2
  • Emilio Delgado López-Cózar
    • 1
  • Francisco Herrera
    • 3
  1. 1.EC3: Evaluación de la Ciencia y de la Comunicación Científica, Departamento de Biblioteconomía y DocumentaciónUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain
  2. 2.EC3: Evaluación de la Ciencia y de la Comunicación Científica, Centro de Investigación Biomédica AplicadaUniversidad de NavarraNavarraSpain
  3. 3.Department of Computer Science and Artificial IntelligenceUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain

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