According to the new Leiden Ranking, increasing numbers of publications by Dutch academics are being cited in their subject fields.

Every year, Dutch universities publish over 23,000 academic articles. Utrecht University comes top, with nearly three thousand publications a year. Even the Tilburg University, which publishes the fewest articles, produces more than one article a day. In recent years, Rotterdam-based academics have published over two thousand articles a year.

Protest against stream of publications

More frequent protests are sounding in the academic world against the stream of publications. Academics apparently use tricks to improve their impact, such as the salami tactic: publishing small parts of the same research in several papers to draw attention to it.

20 percent growth in number of publications 

Complaints about increased publication pressure are very real. The number of Dutch publications has grown by 20 percent in recent years, according to research institute CWTS, which studies academic publications, citations and impact. 

Increasing frequency of citations

However, those articles are being cited slightly more frequently. The number of citations is the most usual way to measure the quality of the publication: the more often an article is cited, the more important it must be.

More and more Dutch publications are among the ten percent best cited articles in their subject fields. Between 2006 and 2009, thirteen percent of all Dutch publications achieved this. Four years later, the number has risen to 13.6 percent.

Only citation scores

Based on citation scores, the CWTS produces the global Leiden Ranking, as a counterpart to rankings which use subjective opinions and data supplied by the universities themselves.

The first nine universities in the ranking are all American, with MIT right at the top. At number ten is the Israeli Weizmann Institute of Science. Of the Dutch universities, Leiden scores the highest (14.5 percent of the publications are among the top 10 percent of the subject area). This university is in 52nd place. 

Number of Rotterdam publications soaring

Erasmus University is in 88th position, 13.7 percent of the articles are among the 10 percent most cited publications in their own subject field. This is a similar percentage as in the period 2006-2009. Since then, the number of publications from Rotterdam has risen by 20 percent.

No ranking to assess universities

The makers emphasise that a ranking like this can never be enough to assess universities. This is because it does not include education or consider the differences between academic disciplines: Tilburg focuses strongly on social sciences, for example, which score less well in such rankings.

Less emphasis on volume of publications

In future evaluations of Dutch subject groups, there will be less emphasis on the volume of publications, as the researchers from the Leiden-based CWTS realise: “Over the coming years, the effect this has on the performance of Dutch universities in the Leiden Ranking will become apparent.” HOP/TF