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Neumark weighs in on NRC rankings

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Chemical & Engineering News.

October 1, 2010

In an article in Chemical & Engineering News, Daniel Neumark, Chair of the UC Berkeley Department of Chemistry, comments on the National Research Council rankings of graduate programs.

“I think it's a valuable exercise to do these rankings,” Neumark told the magazine, “But this does seem to be a very complex way of going about it. It's questionable whether this is the best way to do it.”

Neumark was referring to the two sets of published rankings. The “survey” ranking placed little emphasis on the size of the program, while the “regression” ranking placed much more emphasis on size. The Berkeley chemistry department was ranked as the top program by regression weighting, and third by survey weighting.

“When comparing top-notch programs,” says Neumark, “size matters. If our department were half its size, it would not be as strong as it is now. Our size also allows us to offer a wide range of scientific opportunities to our graduate students, and to provide a highly stimulating and diverse research environment. The so-called ‘regression’ weights better reflect this reality."

Top 10 Ranked by Regression weights
Institution Name low R high R avg R
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY 1 2 1.5
HARVARD UNIVERSITY 2 8 5
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN 2 8 5
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY 2 9 5.5
MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY 3 13 8
STANFORD UNIVERSITY 4 14 9
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL 4 14 9
NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY 2 17 9.5
PENN STATE UNIVERSITY 4 17 10.5
YALE UNIVERSITY 6 24 15


Top 10 Ranked by Survey weights
Institution Name low S high S avg S
HARVARD UNIVERSITY 2 4 3
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY 2 5 3.5
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY 3 8 5.5
NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY 3 9 6
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK 4 13 8.5
STANFORD UNIVERSITY 5 13 9
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN 5 15 10
YALE UNIVERSITY 5 15 10
MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY 6 16 11
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL 8 23 15.5

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