Academic Ranking of World Universities

ShanghaiRanking Academic Excellence Survey 2020 Methodology

The Story Behind

ShanghaiRanking Consultancy began to publish rankings of world universities by academic subjects in 2009. The first batch of ranked subjects are Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science and Economics/Business. It then took ShanghaiRanking 7 years to extend the subject rankings to cover seven engineering subjects in 2016. The main reason for the slow progress of expanding our rankings into more subjects was for the consideration of methodological consistency. One unique feature in the methodology of ShanghaiRanking’s ARWU and subject rankings is the use of Award indicator, such as counting the universities’ staff winning Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology/Medicine, Economics and Fields Medals in Mathematics. However, it was unknown whether there are Nobel Prize like awards or at least globally recognized ones in many other subjects. It was under this context, ShanghaiRanking decided to engage academic leaders from the top universities in the world to identify these awards and possibly other important measures of academic performance together.


By April 2020, we have surveyed more than 10,000 professors from top 100 universities in the world. They are from different subject fields and many of them are the chairs and heads of the faculties or departments they are at. Different from a conventional survey, we publish the names and affiliated institutions of all participants. But we do not publish their answers to the survey questions. Therefore, the results of this survey are from reputable and influential leaders covering different subject fields and are presented to the public in a transparent way. The survey is sent to each participant’s work email with a customised link with the participant’s personal information.


The survey asks two sets of questions, none of which are compulsory questions. The first question asks the participants to list the top tier journals in their primary subjects. The second question asks the participants to identify the most influential and credible international awards in their primary subjects. Researchers from Computer Science & Engineering are also asked to name the top tier conferences in this subject.


A journal is considered as a Top Journal if:
1. It has more than one vote in a subject. AND
2. It has 50% or more votes in this subject OR It was selected in 2019.

An award is considered as a Top Award if:
1. It has more than one vote in a subject. AND
2. It has 50% or more votes in this subject OR It was selected in 2019.

A conference is considered as a Top Conference if:
1.It has no less than 4 votes OR It was selected in 2019.


By April 2020, 736 professors have participated in the survey. They are from 60 subjects, 82 universities, and 15 countries/regions. The results highlight 151 top journals in 47 subjects, 30 top awards in 25 subjects, and 22 top conferences for Computer Science & Engineering.


The survey will continue to be updated. Professors from Top 100 universities in the world are welcome to sign up on our official website and submit your opinions online.

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