What is the effect of country-specific characteristics on the research performance of scientific institutions? Using multi-level statistical models to rank and map universities and research-focused institutions worldwide

Lutz Bornmann, Moritz Stefaner, Felix de Moya Anegon, Ruediger Mutz

Bornmann, Stefaner, de Moya Anegon, and Mutz (in press) have introduced a web application (www.excellencemapping.net) which is linked to both academic ranking lists published hitherto (e.g. the Academic Ranking of World Universities) as well as spatial visualization approaches. The web application visualizes institutional performance within specific subject areas as ranking lists and on custom tile-based maps. The new, substantially enhanced version of the web application and the multilevel logistic regression on which it is based are described in this paper. Scopus data were used which have been collected for the SCImago Institutions Ranking. Only those universities and research-focused institutions are considered that have published at least 500 articles, reviews and conference papers in the period 2006 to 2010 in a certain Scopus subject area. In the enhanced version, the effect of single covariates (such as the per capita GDP of a country in which an institution is located) on two performance metrics (best paper rate and best journal rate) is examined and visualized. A covariate-adjusted ranking and mapping of the institutions is produced in which the single covariates are held constant. The results on the performance of institutions can then be interpreted as if the institutions all had the same value (reference point) for the covariate in question. For example, those institutions can be identified worldwide showing a very good performance despite a bad financial situation in the corresponding country.

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