Academic Ranking of World Universities

ShanghaiRanking Academic Excellence Survey 2017 Methodology

The Story Behind

ShanghaiRanking Consultancy began to publish rankings of world universities by academic subjects in 2009. The first batch of ranked subjects are Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science and Economics/Business. It then took ShanghaiRanking 7 years to extend the subject rankings to cover seven engineering subjects in 2016. The main reason for the slow progress of expanding our rankings into more subjects was for the consideration of methodological consistency. One unique feature in the methodology of ShanghaiRanking’s ARWU and subject rankings is the use of Award indicator, such as counting the universities’ staff winning Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology/Medicine, Economics and Fields Medals in Mathematics. However, it was unknown whether there are Nobel Prize like awards or at least globally recognized ones in many other subjects. It was under this context, ShanghaiRanking decided to engage academic leaders from the top universities in the world to identify these awards and possibly other important measures of academic performance together.


We started ShanghaiRanking Academic Excellence Survey by surveying 1500 Deans, Chairs and Heads of Faculties and Departments of the Top 100 universities across a wide range of subjects. Different from a conventional survey, we publish the names and affiliated institutions of all participants. But we do not publish their answers to the survey questions. Therefore, the results of this survey are from reputable and influential leaders covering different subject fields and are presented to the public in a transparent way. The survey is sent to each participant’s work email with a customised link with the participant’s personal information.


The survey asks three sets of questions, none of which are compulsory questions. The first question asks the participants to list the top tier journals in their primary subjects. The second question asks the participants to identify the most influential and credible international awards in their primary subjects. The third question asks the participants to list the names of living researchers who have made the most important contribution to the body of knowledge in their primary subjects. After careful consideration and evaluation, the list of TOP researchers will not be published or included in the survey in the future.


A journal is considered as a TOP Journal if:
1. It has more than one vote in one subject. AND
2. It has 50% or more votes in one subject OR It is the top voted Journal in one subject.
An award is considered as a TOP Award if:
1. It has more than one vote in one subject. AND
2. It has 50% or more votes in one subject OR It is the top voted Award in one subject.


By May 2017, we have received more than 200 responses from academic leaders. The participants are from 54 universities, 45 subjects and 10 countries. The results highlight 94 top journals in 33 subjects and 27 top awards in 19 subjects.


The survey will continue to be updated. Professors from TOP 100 universities in the world are welcome to sign up on our official website and submit your opinions online. The results of the survey will be updated on our official website every quarter.

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