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Eureka: A rant against the Shanghai university rankings
by Jay Gutman
2018-09-04 07:25:48
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The Shanghai university rankings uses mainly 3 criteria. Here's how they've messed up universities conscious of gaining ranks in the system.

1st criterion: alumni and professors winning Nobel Prizes. This means a lot of crazy professors coming up with weird theories and strange concepts. Rather than tackle research subjects they are interested in, they try the kind of research that will win them the lottery ticket. Just like the lottery, when someone wins, everyone buys a ticket the next day. In research, when someone wins a Nobel Prize for discovering a sub-atomic particle or randomness in economic behavior, everyone starts writing papers on that. Rankings based on Nobel prizes also means professors forcing students to come up with research that revolutionizes concepts rather than tackling simple case studies, and administrations forcing professors to tackle revolutionary concepts rather than simple case studies. This also means a lot of insults and condescending behavior among researchers.

shangai01_4002nd criterion: research citations. Before the Shanghai rankings, footnotes and endnotes and other forms of citation in papers were optional. That is people used to mention studies rather than cite them. Now you have anal professors checking footnotes more than anything else, and students and professors getting yelled at for not getting their footnotes right. Professors teach students their own research rather than general research because students are more likely to cite them in papers, and professor mail boxes and emails get flooded with papers from people, directly or indirectly, begging them to cite their study. This also means a lot of personal branding among researchers, and researchers spamming Facebook pages and email boxes with their research and fancy biographies and cute pictures.

3rd criterion: SCI, SSCI and A&HCI publications. This means a lot of professors’ writing papers for the sake of writing papers, papers that don't really mean anything. That would be like telling people: the more you publish on Ovi, the more you get bumped up the rankings. Or the more you publish in the New York Times, the more you get bumped up the rankings. That would mean a lot of people publishing stuff devoid of any content.

What the rankings should really focus on:

-Dorm rooms. Are there enough dorm rooms? Are they heated in the winter? Are they cool in the summer? Do disabled people have access? Are students satisfied with their dorm rooms? Are the dorms clean?

-Cafeterias: is the food good? Do students have a wide choice of food? Are prices reasonable? Are students and professors satisfied with their cafeterias?

-Buildings and classrooms: are they well equipped? Are they warm in the winter and cool in the summer? Are the students satisfied with them? Do professors have to fight for classrooms?

-Class content: are the students satisfied with class content? Do they learn from their classes? Does the university provide alternative ways students can attend class, such as posting videos of the class online?

-Administration: are students and professors satisfied with administration? Is the administration overly bureaucratic? Is it efficient? Do students and professors get papers when they need them?

-Professor satisfaction: are professors satisfied with pay? Working conditions? Do they get paid a lot of money? Do they have access to research funds? Do they have access to research facilities? Is their future more or less guaranteed within the university or are they likely to get kicked out?

-The future of students: are students confident that they can get a job once they graduate? Are they optimistic about the future? Does the university give them better prospects in life?

-Alumni satisfaction: did graduating from the university give good prospects in life? Did they get the jobs they wanted to get? The pay they wanted to get? Does the university actually care about your life struggles and check in on you every now and then and provide help when you need it?

-and finally: tuition satisfaction: do you feel that you are getting your money's worth? Or do you feel like this is a total rip off?

-and regarding research you wanna look at: bestselling books from professors attending the university (let's say 30,000 plus copies) widely viewed YouTube videos of their lectures (let's say one million plus views) and widely sold patents (you come up with a number for that one).

Ever since Shanghai has been ranking universities based on this SCI SSCI A&HCI nonsense and based on Nobel Prizes, professors went from drinking with each other and respecting each other to calling each other names. Professors have to beg and bribe to get their papers publish, the only thing they read in papers in footnotes and bibliographies, and university administration has been calling on professors and telling them “win the Nobel Prize or you're out!” I hope this article gets taken into account in the next rankings.

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