Program Rankings 2017: How Maclean’s picks the top schools

Maclean’s ranks universities in 10 program areas including business, engineering, medicine, nursing and computer science

Maclean’s program rankings combine five indicators to provide a picture of the best Canadian universities in the 10 program areas. Each of the five indicators is assigned a weight to come up with an overall score. Three are based on hard data provided by Elsevier from its Scopus database, one of the most comprehensive compendiums of peer-reviewed literature in the world. The other two are based on the largest reputation survey of academics of its kind conducted by Maclean’s.

The five indicators are: field weighted citation impact (FWCI) at 35 per cent, fractional publications at 10 per cent, fractional citations at 10 per cent, program reputation at 35 per cent and research reputation at 10 per cent.

FWCI measures the impact of research at each university by calculating how often a paper gets cited; it is normalized based on the global standards within each discipline, allowing universities to compare their performance to the world average. Fractional publications measure the volume of papers published at each university, adjusting for papers with multiple authors by lowering the count accordingly. Fractional citations measure how often a paper was cited and also take into account if there are multiple authors on a paper.

The reputation data reflect the views of 1,771 faculty and senior administrators across Canada. Academics were asked to identify their area of expertise, then list up to 10 universities that they felt were offering the best programs and conducting the best research in that area.

The raw scores for all five indicators are calculated. The scores are then converted to Z scores (rounded to the nearest integer) to show the relative position of each school within the distribution for each measure. Weights are applied to obtain the overall score. When Z scores rounded to the nearest integer are identical, ties are declared and sorted alphabetically.

To be included in the ranking, schools must offer a program in the relevant area and have produced a minimum of 50 papers over the past five years in education, business, nursing and psychology, and a minimum of 75 in computer science, engineering, biology, environmental science, medicine and mathematics.

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