Architectural Blatherations

Rating the World's Architecture Schools Research Performance 2009/13: Our Methodology

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Final Edition

This site ceased updating in 2014. This page will not be updated.

The Good Oil

Every five years we survey and rate the research performance of the architecture schools in the English-speaking nations. To put it simply: we assign each academic {professor} a research score, derived from their reference counts in the two great architecture libraries in the English-speaking world. A school's median research score, is simply the median score of the academics at that school.

Previous surveys were conducted in 2005 and 2007. This page discusses the 2009/13 report, whose survey data was collected from November 2008 to January 2009. For our earlier 2005 and 2007 reports, see here.

Read part one of this report to find the actual ratings.

Summary of the 2009/13 report

Features of the report:

Who got counted

In each of our surveyed countries, we counted every accredited architecture school producing a qualification allowing the graduate to practise architecture in that country. We ignored candidate and probationary schools.

We counted the smallest architecture unit in the school. If a school contained departments of architecture, urban design, and structures, we only counted the people in the architecture department. In those schools that mashed all these together in a single academic unit, we counted everyone unless their published information identified them as not teaching an architecture course.

We examined the websites of these schools to obtain a list of every senior academic (naturally, we assumed the lists on these sites were accurate; and we assumed the spelling was accurate). To be counted as eligible, a person had to be:

We did not count tutors, professors emeritus (emerita!), adjuncts, associate lecturers, affiliates, visitors, fellows, and that guy in the basement who knows all about Photoshop, and other obvious blow-ins. Disregarding these people does not disadvantage a school: on the contrary it acts in their school's favour, since it reduces staff members per count.

We also discarded about 20 people who seem to be living double lives, employed full-time at two different universities.

We did count clinical professors and that wonderful American camel-designed-by-a-committee, the professor of the practice.

What we counted to arrive at our scores

We went to the two greatest architecture libraries in the English-speaking world: the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) British Architectural Library in the UK; and the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University in the USA. If you are going to find architectural research anywhere, you will find it here.

For each academic, we counted his or her references in the two vast library databases each institution maintains. This gave a research score for each person.

We used these scores to calculate the median research score for each school. That is, the typical research score of an academic at that school.

We also calculated the percentage of staff at each school who are in the top quartile (top 25%) of global performers. By definition, one-quarter of a typical school's staff will fall into this category. You may want to use both measures to assess schools.

Much more information can be found in the 2005 report.

Why we only count every five years

Our previous studies convinced us that there is simply no point in making annual or even biannual rankings. Our ratings are based on the research outputs of architecture school academics. We make two lists: one for individual academics, and one for entire schools:

You might want to contrast this approach to that of our primary rival, which pretends to offer ratings of some meaningful significance annually, for a great deal of your money. If you insist on throwing away your money, you would get more satisfaction by giving it to a homeless person.

Who did not get counted

Nations not included

We had to exclude India from our survey, since we could not find decent web data for any school.

Schools not included

The table below shows the schools we had to ignore completely for the reasons cited.

Nation University Reason
Aus Charles Darwin University Does not offer professional degree
Aus Curtin University of Technology No academics list
Can Ryerson University Does not offer professional degree
Can Université de Montréal Not primarily Anglophone
Can Universite Laval Not primarily Anglophone
NZ Otago Polytechnic Does not offer professional degree
RSA Tshwane University of Technology Could not identify countable academics
RSA Durban University of Technology Does not offer professional degree
UK Birmingham City University Could not identify countable academics
UK University of Brighton Could not identify countable academics
UK De Montfort University Could not identify countable academics
UK University of East London Could not identify countable academics
UK Royal College of Art Could not identify countable academics
UK Edinburgh College of Art Institutional change
UK University of Edinburgh Institutional change
UK University of Huddersfield No academics list
UK University of Dundee No academics list
UK University of Plymouth No academics list
UK Liverpool John Moores University No academics list
UK Architectural Association Outside university system
USA Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico Could not identify countable academics
USA Parsons The New School for Design Could not identify countable academics
USA Washington University in St Louis Could not identify countable academics
USA University of Texas at San Antonio Could not identify countable academics
USA University of North Carolina - Charlotte Could not identify countable academics
USA University of Hartford Does not offer professional degree
USA Miami University No site or unreachable
USA University of South Florida No academics list
USA Universidad de Peurto Rico Not primarily Anglophone
USA Boston Architectural College Outside university system
USA Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture Outside university system
USA Southern California Institute of Architecture Outside university system
USA Academy of Art University Outside university system

Not accredited: Course is not accredited by the national authority as a valid terminal or professional degree. Candidate for accreditation: Course has been accepted by the national authority as a candidate for accreditation. No academics list: School was too dim to list on its website those who worked there. Could not identify countable academics: Staff {faculty} listed, but we were unable to identify those satisfying our eligibility criteria: janitor or professor? The school's site did not tell us. Not primarily Anglophone: Schools whose staff published primarily in languages unlikely to be counted by our library databases. Outside university system: Schools that do not claim to conduct university-quality research as a major mission.