Saturday, November 5, 2011

05/11/2011: Universities & Research: Europe v ROW

OECD recently released an interesting database on research and universities impact for 24 countries. Here are some insights.

First from the top, the US retained its absolutely dominant position in terms of high impact universities. The EU comes in as the second. The relationship between two in terms of specific categories of high impact instituions ('hot-spots') is plotted below:

Aggregating Medicine, Human Sciences and Sciences and plotting them against Social Sciences clearly shows that world-wide (within sample) and even excluding the US, there is a very strong positive correlation between the quality of Science-focused high impact academic centres and Social Sciences centres.
In fact, correlation between Sciences and Social Sciences hot spots numbers is 0.97 for full sample and 0.91 for sub-sample excluding the US. However, excluding UK and US, the correlation drops to 0.59. In my opinion, this strongly suggests that our policies, aiming at focusing in terms of building capacity in 'hard sciences' alone - the EU-wide and certainly Ireland-own agendas for research and development frameworks - is a misguided approach that ignores the important inter-links between two fields.

EU overall results in the charts above are significantly driven by the UK academic performance. Excluding UK from the EU numbers dramatically alters EU standing relative to the US:
Thus, overall, ex-UK, EU falls to the third place in global rankings in terms of hotspots, were it to be ranked as a singular country.

Here are some more detailed plots of sub-indices by more granular division of research areas:

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