Friday, August 15, 2008

The Medal Count

Computers haven't just revolutionized the practice of academic research, they've also revolutionized the way we think about and measure research success.

With virtually every journal online now, and the ability to build a database showing how publications are linked to one another via citation, there's a little bit of Bill James statistical wizardry going on in the ivory tower.

For example, the University of Texas - Dallas School of Management has recently created and published a database of the top 100 business schools, as ranked by the production of academic papers and their ability to inspire others to cite them, going back to 1990. Duke's Fuqua School of Business came in third overall, ahead of a school that starts with an H. (Kudos to UTD for making this public, showing they rank 20th in North America and 21st worldwide, well behind UT Austin.)

Another fascinating example of this effort to statistically analyze the research enterprise came in the 25 July cover story of Science: "Follow the Money," about the state of HIV/AIDS research. Here, Duke ranked fifth in HIV/AIDS research funding, and fourth in impact (citations per paper).

Duke's Barton Haynes MD, leader of the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI) topped the list for largest budgets, and David Montefiori, director of the surgery department's Laboratory for AIDS Vaccine Research and Development, came in 8th on the high-impact authors list (156 papers averaging more than 49 citations each -- wow).