Penn, Harvard and Chicago ranked high in research productivity and Johns Hopkins, Texas A&M & Carnegie Mellon low, according to a Canadian researcher who compared the dollars spent by 72 universities with the number of journal articles published by researchers at the schools.
1. University of Pennsylvania - $28,547 2. Harvard University - $31,231 3. University of Chicago - $42,209 4. Indiana University - $48,851 5. Boston University - $49,593 6. University of Virginia - $50,042 7. University of Calif. at Santa Barbara - $53,471 8. University of Pittsburgh - $53,906 9. Washington University in St. Louis - $54,844 10. New York University - $56,037
1. Johns Hopkins University - $185,811 2. Texas A&M University - $128,269 3. Carnegie Mellon University - $118,344 4. North Carolina State University - $114,090 5. Mass. Institute of Technology - $110,349 6. University at Buffalo - $108,839 7. Oregon State University - $109,086 8. University of Georgia - $103,619 9. Colorado State University - $100,291 10. University of Calif. at San Diego - $96,639
University of Georgia researchers are among the least productive in the nation, according to a ranking that compares research spending at 72 major U.S. research universities to the number of journal articles their researchers publish.
"I can't imagine those who are knowledgeable will take this study seriously," said David Lee, vice president for research.
As reported this week in the Chronicle of Higher Education, UGa spent $103,619 per research paper from 1989 to 2004 — more per paper than all but seven other major research universities in the study.
UGa was in good company on the least-efficient end of the rankings, compiled by Jeffrey M. Litwin, an associate dean at Canada's George Brown College. Others among the 10 universities Litwin said are least productive are Carnegie Mellon University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the world's best engineering schools.
The two least productive research universities in the nation, according to Litwin, were Johns Hopkins University at $185,811 per research article and Texas A&M University at $128,269 per article.
Of the 10 universities that got the most bang for their research bucks, most were Ivy League and other private colleges.
University of Pennsylvania researchers churned out a scholarly article for every $28,547 spent on research, followed by Harvard University at $31,231 and the University of Chicago in third place at $42,209, Litwin said.
Universities that receive federal research grants report annually to the National Science Foundation how much money they spend on research, including pay for workers, equipment and supplies. The totals include funding from federal, private and state grant sources, and internal university funds.
Litwin's study fails to take into account important factors that might substantially change those rankings, however, according to Lee and UGa Provost Jere Morehead.
"Because of the fascination with rankings, both in the academy and in the popular press, an article of this type will gain attention," Morehead said. "However, to understand research productivity in more depth would take multiple measures of productivity and research, not just expenditures and number of publications.
"Research expenditures and types of publications vary greatly by field and disciplines, and thus a simplistic approach to outcomes reveals little about the actual productivity of an institution."
Those aren't the only problems, Morehead and Lee said.
Every institution has a different mix of academic disciplines, and researchers in some fields simply produce more papers than researchers in others, Morehead said. Professors in sciences usually publish more than professors in humanities or social sciences, he said.
According to Lee, universities can't even be compared easily on the amount of money they spend on research.
"How institutions report research expenditures can vary considerably — in other words, it is not nearly as straightforward a measure as one might think," he said. "Second and most importantly, the number of published papers is far too restrictive a way of looking at institutional productivity. Combine the two and you've got a very naive approach."
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