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Which university is better? *February 4, 2006*

*Posted by apetrov in Near Physics, Particle Physics.*

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Ok, this is my first post here. I was always wondering how some universities are condidered to be “better” than others by applying students. For instance, what is better Caltech or MIT? Clevland State or Chicago State?

Here is some interesting statistics. Some time ago, I looked at the number of papers that appeared since the year 2000 in particle and nuclear physics from several institutions. I compared Wayne State University, Harvard, Michigan, and Michigan State using the records from SLAC SPIRES database (it contains only High Energy Phyiscs and Nuclear Physics data; I don’t know how to do it for condensed matter or atomic physics). I counted all possible papers (published in journals, proceedings, etc.), but removed Review of Particle Properties from consideration. Since the number of papers is directly correlated to the number of people in the department doing HEP and NP, a better estimate of importance is the ratio of the number of citations each paper received over number of papers. This in turn can be normalized by the number of active (i.e. published at least one research paper in the last 3 years) faculty doing HEP and NP in a given department.

Here are the results:

Wayne State: 305 papers and 5248 citations or 17.2 citations/paper

10 active faculty: 30.5 papers/faculty or 1.72 citat/paper/faculty

Michigan: 670 papers and 8259 citations or 12.3 citations/paper

28 active faculty: 23.9 papers/faculty or 0.4 citat/paper/faculty

Michigan State: 611 papers and 8259 citations or 13.5 citations/paper

41 active faculty: 14.9 papers/faculty or 0.3 citat/paper/faculty

As you can see, Wayne State beats all famed Michigan and MSU in the number of citations/paper, paper/faculty and citation/paper/faculty by a wide margin! Of course paper/faculty is not a very accurate criterion as many papers are written by postdocs. Unfortunately, Harvard beats Wayne State:

Harvard: 658 papers and 12389 citations or 18.8 citations/paper

Of course, there are other criteria. Yet, I believe that one can prove a theorem that there always exists a set of criteria by which any one university would be better than any other in the world…

References:

Wayne State: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/find/hep/wwwcitesummary?rawcmd=FIND+af+wayne+state+u.+and+date+after+2000

Michigan: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/find/hep/wwwcitesummary?rawcmd=FIND+af+michigan+u.+and+date+after+2000

Michigan State: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/find/hep/wwwcite?rawcmd=FIND+af+michigan+state+u.+and+date+after+2000+not+t+rpp&FORMAT=wwwcitesummary

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