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The effect of university mergers on the Shanghai ranking


The growing influence of the idea of world-class universities and the associated phenomenon of international academic rankings are intriguing issues for contemporary comparative analyses of higher education. Although the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU or the Shanghai ranking) was originally devised to assess the gap between Chinese universities and world-class universities, it has since been credited with roles in stimulating higher education change on many scales, from increasing the labor value of individual high-performing scholars to wholesale renovation of national university systems including mergers. This paper exhibits the response of the ARWU indicators and rankings to institutional mergers in general, and specifically analyses the universities of France that are engaged in a major amalgamation process motivated in part by a desire for higher international rankings.

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  1. In 2014 ARWU made use of the old and new Thomson Reuters’ lists of Highly Cited Researchers to compute two HiCi sub-scores, old HiCi and new HiCi.

  2. In the case of the HiCi indicator the equation applies to both the old and new HCR counting separately.

  3. There are slight differences for universities specializing in social sciences and humanities where N&S is not included.



  6. More explicitly: the rule is to count enseignants-chercheurs excluding research staff from e.g. CNRS or INSERM.


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The work of D. Docampo was supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Galician Regional Government under agreement for funding the Atlantic Research Center for Information and Communication Technologies (AtlantTIC).

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Correspondence to L. Cram.

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Docampo, D., Egret, D. & Cram, L. The effect of university mergers on the Shanghai ranking. Scientometrics 104, 175–191 (2015).

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  • Academic rankings
  • Shanghai
  • ARWU
  • Mergers
  • French universities
  • French higher education system