Oxford and Cambridge Top List of Wikipedia-Influential Universities

By Jamie Condliffe on at

There are many ways to judge the quality of a university: the results of its students, the research it produces, perhaps even the number of Nobel prizes it boasts. But how about using Wikipedia citations instead?

That’s what a team of researchers from the University of Franche-Comte in France have done. In a paper published on the arXiv server, the team explains how they’ve applied the Pagerank algorithm made famous by Google to probe the inter-relations between Wikipedia pages and their mentions of universities. In the analysis, each uni is a node and the more links made to it, the more influential it is.

The team has applied the technique to 24 different language editions of Wikipedia, creating a database that includes four million articles in English, and least one million in each of German, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, and Russian. Each language naturally favours its own universities, so the team then combined the list to create a Top 100. Here’s the top 20:

1. University of Cambridge UK

2. University of Oxford UK

3. Harvard University US

4. Columbia University US

5. Princeton University US

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology US

7. University of Chicago US

8. Stanford University US

9. Yale University US

10 University of California, Berkeley US

11. Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany

12. Cornell University US

13. University of Pennsylvania US

14. University of London UK

15. Uppsala University Sweden

16. University of Edinburgh UK

17. Heidelberg University Germany

18. University of California, Los Angeles US

19. New York University US

20. University of Michigan US

There are, unsurprisingly, plenty of many common names in the list. But as the arXiv blog points out, there are some pretty noticeable differences between this listing and most international rankings of universities made using alternative metrics. Notably, the list created using Wikipedia seems to favour older universities. Presumably that’s because they have a greater cultural impact, and people like to name-check them as a result.

How did your alma mater fair? [arXiv via Technology Review]

Image by Kristina Alexanderson under Creative Commons licence

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