“You have to examine precisely what the rankings measure“
Dr. Sonja Berghoff, project manager of the CHE ResearchRanking, in an interview with Dorit Amelang concerning the German research system. What is the international position of Germany in science? What are its strenghts? What is special about it?. The CHE ResearchRanking and the CHE ExcellenceRanking show the best universities in research in Germany and Europe.
German universities are not at the top of international rankings. Why not?
You have to examine precisely what the rankings measure. In my view, one reason is that the survey methods give preference to the natural sciences, while German universities traditionally have a very broad subject base. The Shanghai ranking is based on the number of publications in international journals. German publications therefore do not translate into high figures. Another reason is that only university research is assessed. The achievements of non-university research institutions in Germany are not taken into account.
In late 2007, CHE published its first rankings of Europe´s 4,000 universities. How did German universities perform and what was measured?
German universities did very well here; they have no need to fear international comparison. We are only just beginning and regard it not only as a ranking, but also as information for universities and students. Here you can see who is researching where and in what fields in Europe. We initially concentrated on the natural sciences and analysed the publications, looked for much-cited researchers and assessed the commitment of European networks. We are now trying to expand the ranking to further subjects.
You also assessed German universities with CHE university rankings. Who comes out the best?
I´m afraid I can´t name individual universities. I can only say so much: we noted a high level of correlation between our rankings, the Initiative for Excellence and DFG promotion rankings. It is usually the same places that top the lists.
Find out more in German at: www.che-ranking.de
The interview is published in magazin "Deutschland", by Societäts-Verlag, Frankfurt a.M. in cooperation with the Federal Foreign Office, Berlin. Issue No. 1|2008, Feb./March.