Research findings will only become relevant in the academic world once they are made public. Depending on the discipline, this may be done through trade journals, articles in edited volumes, monographs and increasingly via electronic media. Such disswmination can be traced by utilising bibliometric analyses. As the preferred dissemination methods, as well as available databases vary highly in the respective disciplines, each subject included in the ranking has been analysed differently. For this reason, there can also be no interdisciplinary comparison of the key indicators.
Essentially, the investigation of the key indicators covers (i) activity indicators that indicate involvement in the dissemination of academic research, and (ii) quality indicators that measure the response to publications among members of the public that are experts in the respective field. Selecting publications via a database search on individual people covers a significant subset of the publications, but not the total publication output of the departments. For the first time in 2006, the ranking also included publications by young researchers, except for the field of medicine.