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Leiden rankings to add open-source version in 2024

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Open-source ranking will be published alongside one using proprietary data

The Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands, which publishes university rankings, plans to start a new ranking based entirely on open data and open algorithms in 2024.

The open-source CWTS ranking will sit alongside listings produced, as in previous years, based on bibliographic data from the Web of Science database of Clarivate*.

Speaking at an event on international rankings held on 7 September at the Curie Institute in Paris, organised by Clarivate with the participation of PSL University and France Universités, Ludo Waltman, deputy director of the CWTS, said that use of open data offers a possible solution to several problems associated with academic rankings at present.

Waltman said: “The big global league tables are problematic for a number of reasons: lack of transparency, but also the fact that they provide just one single perspective on the way institutions are assessed, a one-dimensional indicator—everything is taken together in one number.”

He added that because major rankings agencies often provide limited methodological information, universities might “try to reconstruct how the ranks were obtained, but it’s ultimately a black box”.

Democratise the debate

Waltman said that use of open, transparent data and methodologies would hopefully have a democratising effect on rankings, as “if the data is openly available, anyone who has some level of computational skill can make their own rankings and that means that we democratise the debate about what matters in science”.

The team at CWTS intends to use the same methodology for both open-source and standard sets of rankings, Waltman explained, and the results should show up any gaps in open-source data. He said the open-source rankings were “an experiment” and that the CWTS team would make decisions on the data source for future work based on its outcomes.

He said: “What we aim to show is that building a fully open and transparent university ranking is actually possible—it’s not just a dream or a naive idea… We are living in times of open science, so should be able to do this.”

*Research Professional News is an editorially independent part of Clarivate