dude, what happened to that nrc sociology ranking?

When I started teaching at IU, there was buzz about the NRC’s upcoming ranking of sociology doctoral programs. A few years later, maybe around 2006 or so, I remember filling out a survey form for the ranking. It’s now almost 2010 and I haven’t seen that survey come out. Google shows that most mentions of NRC and sociology concern the 1994 ranking. So, what’s up? Where’s the ranking? How hard can it be to cook up some stats on journal pubs? It’s now at the point that rankings based on a 2006 survey will be seriously out of date.

Bonus round: Here’s a neat 1987 article in the American Sociologist. It’s an interview with David Goslin on sociology and its relationship to the federal government.

Bonus round, part deux: A cool 2002 article  in Social Science Research by David Jacobs showing how ascriptive qualities and productivies both affect department ranking. In other words, being good and halo effects matter: “To see what factors explain departmental prestige ratings in sociology, this study assesses the effects of four ascriptive characteristics after holding departmental books, articles weighted by journal selectivity, citations, faculty size, and faculty rank constant. Departments in schools with “State,” “A & M,” or a direction in their name, departments with more female graduate students, and departments in urban public, largely commuter schools do worse on the NRC ratings. Departments with a few well-cited scholars receive lower scores than departments with comparatively equal citation counts across faculty, but departments from the three most prestigious Ivy League institutions receive stronger quality ratings after scholarly accomplishments have been held constant. The results show that both scholarship and ascription influence departmental prestige.”

Written by fabiorojas

October 12, 2009 at 12:50 am

Posted in academia, fabio, sociology

11 Responses

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  1. That and all the rest of the departments too!

    I remember the party when the 1994 rankings came out:

    “UC Berkeley was No. 1 nationwide among both public and private universities. Thirty-six of Berkeley’s 37 rated programs, or 97 percent, are in the top 10.”

    Go Bears!



    October 12, 2009 at 1:12 am

  2. How hard can it be to cook up some stats on journal pubs?

    From the little I’ve heard, when there are a lot of interested parties who can reach the algorithm it can be quite spectacularly hard.



    October 12, 2009 at 1:21 am

  3. NRC was supposed to release a “methodology report” in Feb 2009 and the final reports and rankings were to be released in October 2009. Everything has been “postponed”. Sounds to me like the attempts to triangulate pub lists, citations, and faculty survey results failed miserably.



    October 12, 2009 at 1:24 am

  4. REW

    October 12, 2009 at 1:55 am

  5. There have been a handful of articles that have popped up on InsideHigherEd and the Chronicle’s website describing the dismay of many in higher education with the endless number of postponements of the NRC rankings. I’ve heard a colleague become so irate at the mention of the NRC rankings to say that it is no wonder why the U.S. News and World Report rankings have gained so much influence in academia since some of the smartest people in the world can’t even figure out how to create a ranking system…let alone publish it on time! I just kind of laughed and took another sip of coffee on that one.

    Anyone want to rank their top 10 sociology departments? Methodology does not have to be perfect (as it seems to be a delay in the NRC rankings) and bias can be included (i.e., the wonderful “prestige survey” of the US News and World Report rankings). Could make the Monday morning a bit interesting.



    October 12, 2009 at 12:20 pm

  6. I had the unfortunate experience of having to input our department’s data into the NRC thing. The problem is they constructed it ass-backwards. They wanted not only rankings of departments, but information on student and applicant characteristics, and on the time to degree by individual characteristics (ethnicity, citizenship, gender…). And, they wanted the scholarly information by individual as well. I fear that this is not an effort by “….some of the smartest people in the world” but instead was coopted by a bunch of “educational administration” types who kept adding hokey stuff to the study without any understanding of how to collect or analyze data.



    October 12, 2009 at 7:12 pm

  7. NRC has ruined the rankings process for at least the next 10 years–which is roughly how often they conduct these surveys. Most of the info collected years ago isn’t even applicable anymore as many professors have changed institutions and the recent economy has shifted department placement patterns even more heavily to empirical research over theory.



    November 12, 2009 at 5:44 pm

  8. […] a comment » There is no reason to wait for NRC rankings. We should do our soc rankings and make them open source.  If you think this is a cool idea, […]


  9. Apparently the wait will be over soon.



    August 28, 2010 at 1:56 pm

  10. Thanks, Ed. It’ll be interesting to see how they ended up rating things.



    August 30, 2010 at 2:43 am

  11. […] Edward noted last week that the NRC announced that their rankings will be out in late September. Who thinks that the soc rankings will be much different than the 1994 version? […]


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