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Improving University Rankings through Google Scholar Profiles


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Presentation at the (Foreign Language Education) FLExICT Conference at the Ritsumeikan University Osaka Ibaraki Campus on September 9, 2016. It shows how optimizing Google Scholar Profiles can enhance the academic recognition of individual researchers while contributing to improving the international rankings of their university.

Published in: Education
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Improving University Rankings through Google Scholar Profiles

  1. 1.  Introduction: international university rankings  Education Ministry (MEXT) on how to rise in the rankings  Kansai universities’ reputation vs. international rankings  Online factors that academics can optimize  Open Web presence and impact of the university site  Online research repositories for faculty publications  Surprising uses of Google Scholar  Used by ranking organizations to evaluate universities  It finds and links publications, and it counts citations  It can be used to optimize faculty academic recognition  How to set up and customize Google Scholar Profiles  Conclusion: faculty-university mutual commitment
  2. 2. Yahoo News (2013, July 29). Daigaku sekai ranku iri shien, 10-ko 100-oku-en hojo [¥10 billion to support the inclusion of 10 universities in world rankings]. Yomiuri Shimbun. Retrieved from: MEXT: “In order to rise in rankings, it is necessary for researchers attached to universities to do original studies, through which, among other things, their published papers will be cited by other researchers” (author’s translation).
  3. 3. 4ICU Japan QS Asia 300 WM Japan WM World SIR Japan SIR Asia SIR World Average Japan Kwansei Gakuin 49 251- 300 82 1,850 151 667 2,018 94 (5) Kansai 21 43 1,285 104 441 1,467 56 (4) Doshi- sha 22 201- 250 39 1,210 86 367 1,257 49 (3) Ritsu- meikan 44 181- 190 15 649 57 259 974 39 (2) Kyoto Sangyo 38 111 2,191 215 936 2,524 121 (7) Kinki 41 181- 190 31 1,080 38 176 738 37 (1) Konan 130 128 2,499 189 836 2,340 149 (8) Ryu- koku 28 71 1,690 187 828 2,327 95 (6)
  4. 4. Sources, author’s translations and notes “KAN-KAN-DO-RITS 関関同立(Kwansei Gakuin University, Kansai University, Doshisha University, and Ritsumeikan University) is the abbreviation that many people refer to when talking about the four leading private universities in the region (of 20 million people…” from 「これら各大学は、関西・西日本における難関私立大学として知られている」 from関関同立 [It means that KanKanDoRits are known as competitive-entry private universities in the Kansai region and Western Japan] 「西日本、関西圏における中堅私立大学として知られている」 from産近甲龍 [It means that SanKinKoRyu are known as mainstay private universities in Kansai] University ranking organizations 4ICU = 4 International Colleges & Universities, Japan from QS = Quacquarelli Symonds, QS University Rankings: Asia top 300, from WM = Webometrics [impact is 50% and means backlinks to the university’s official Web domain], Japan & World from SIR = SCImago [includes government & corporate research institutes], Japan, Asia, & World from
  5. 5. QS Asia top 300 rank Faculty- student ratio Citations per paper Int’l faculty Int’l stu- dents Papers per faculty In-/Out- bound exchange students Advan- tage Kinki (Kindai) 181- 190 63.3 90.4 37.1 5.3 22.2 4.4/ 1.2- Publi- cations Ritsu- meikan 181- 190 24.9 34.5 71.5 30.3 14.9 4.9/ 16.5 Int’l- ization Relative to each other & Asia 300 Same Kinki good, Rits weak Kinki excels, Rits weak Rits good, Kinki weak Rits better, both weak Kinki better, both weak Rits better, both very weak Kinki overall advan- tage
  6. 6. Sources, notes, and findings  Most ranking organizations do not disclose their proprietary formulae, such as weighting of criteria.  QS includes academic & employer reputation, but data are not disclosed.  QS lists Kinki right above Rits in the 181-190 range, with a numerical advantage overall in the criteria, i.e., faculty-student ratio, publications & internationalization.  In the previous chart, 4ICU & SCImago gave Kinki the advantage, while (Web- oriented) WM rated Rits highly.  The above chart suggests that papers and citations gave Kinki the advantage.  Although the London Times lists only a global top 400, regarding its weighting: “The biggest proportion of a university’s ranking - a third - comes from how frequently its research is cited by academics.” Bushra, S. (2013, October 2). Asian universities catch up with U.S., Britain: annual index. Reuters. Retrieved from education-universities-idUSBRE99114Q20131002 Cf. also
  7. 7. Interpretation and recommendations How can these findings be interpreted?  Have the reputations of well-known Kansai universities fossilized?  Or does the Web presence of some universities not fit with the ranking criteria and Google algorithms by which their academic output is measured? The above findings and heavy weighting of publications suggested by the London Times support the conclusion that the KanKanDoRitsu universities punch below their weight compared to Kindai because of a lack of faculty publications, citations, or recognition thereof. Then what can university stakeholders do for fuller academic recognition? Not to game the system, but knowing that rankings are conducted mostly online, optimize the university’s Web presence to align with the media and algorithms by which academic output is now measured. Let all affiliated stakeholders, including part-time teachers, contribute to the university Website. The rest of this presentation provides further recommendations, with more details in the handout.
  8. 8. According to criteria of ranking organizations and Google Scholar:  Publish more content of all kinds  on the open Web, not password-protected  in the main campus domain, e.g.,  English or multilingual versions of articles, abstracts & keywords  Interlink all Web content  Standardize spellings of individuals and university names  Format online publications and presentations in PDF / rich files  Format articles to match Google Scholar algorithms
  9. 9.  Reprint faculty papers on the open Web  Need permission to reprint closed publications  Affect the size of the university’s measured academic output  Attract links and citations, which can raise the university’s ranking  Use open source research repository software (next slide)  Are interoperable with Google Scholar, CiNii in Japan, etc.  Such data are also used by university ranking organizations  Increase exposure, backlinks (a measure of impact), etc.  Citations tend to be more numerous to open access publications  Also interoperable are repositories such as and Butler, K. (2013). Scientists who share data publicly receive more citations. UPI Science News. Retrieved from Scientists-who-share-data-publicly-receive-more-citations/7861380637421
  10. 10. A presentation saved in PDF format becomes available to download, found by other repositories and Google Scholar, then possibly cited.
  11. 11. Citations  Gold standard of peer review.  Average number of citations is about 1.5 per publication in databases, so it is a lifelong journey.  Google Scholar cannot find all the citations to a scholarly publication, but more tend to be found if Google Scholar Profiles are manually updated and if papers are placed online, particularly in research repositories. An uptick in citations found by Google Scholar has been seen to closely follow new additions to a campus repository.  Authors who cite one’s publications may be helpful for one’s research.  Open access publications tend to be found and could be cited more than more prestigious publications that are strictly kept offline. This may eventually tilt the field toward openness.  Rory McGreal (UNESCO/COL OER Chair): “if you have to pay, it is a scam.” From
  12. 12. The usual use of Google Scholar is to find reliable sources for research. Search results show the disciplinary context of a phrase, citations to articles, formats for references, and who is doing similar research. From
  13. 13. Google Scholar is used by ranking organizations to evaluate university academic output. It compiles data on the publications and citations of individual authors. However, citations are selectively and incompletely counted online. Thus the chief recommendation for universities is for all faculty members who publish to set up and customize their own Google Scholar Profile. Webometrics 2012 global university ranking criteria
  14. 14. Start at or (日本語で) Click on Sign in, log into your Google account if necessary, and apply to set up a Google Scholar Profile using your main academic e-mail address, such as To customize, click on links or choose among “Actions” from the drop- down menu on your profile page. Your Profile, which is indexed with a high weight in Google search results, can serve as an online list of publications, updated automatically and manually throughout your career. There is a presentation handout with step-by-step directions
  15. 15. Example Google Scholar Profile: The focus is on citations. It handles various languages. A verifiable academic e-mail address is necessary. Articles can be sorted by most cited (the default) or in reverse chronological order (click on “Year”). Customization includes specializations, adding co-authors, and manually adding publications that Google Scholar does not find.
  16. 16. Example of adding a publication manually to one’s Google Scholar Profile
  17. 17. Example Google Scholar Profile after some editing manually
  18. 18. Conclusions and Recommendations  Many Japanese universities are punching below their weight due to a lack of citations (MEXT, 2013) and rich content including English on their Website, so be a faculty hero by helping optimize academic accomplishments for fuller recognition.  Universities hurt their rankings by high teacher turnover and part-time hiring.  Attractiveness to foreign students (reputation) is affected by rankings abroad.  Have an open source online campus research repository of faculty publications.  Have all affiliated scholars who publish maintain a Google Scholar Profile. Keep it academically honest, for example by combining or eliminating mistaken entries.  Optimize as well as maximize Web presence.  Have all campus Website pages interlinked, and encourage links from other domains by providing faculty homepages and useful community services.  Show abundance and openness rather than scarcity and exclusiveness.  University-faculty mutual commitment is a key point: universities that treat their stakeholders better can rise higher in the global rankings. For more info see: McCarty, S. (2015). University Website optimization and Google Scholar for academic recognition. Osaka Jogakuin College Journal, 44, 17-29. Available at: