This first post will be a very descriptive account of rankings in the discipline. After all, the purpose of Moneyball is to rise in the rankings, so it's good to know what kind of rankings are out there. The future posts will be about my own work, as well as on Moneyball hiring strategies in political science more generally. Even though there are considerable differences between legal and political science academia, I hope that some ideas are at least somewhat illuminating.
There are two main types of rankings in political science (as, I assume, in other disciplines) – “reputational” and “objective.” I cannot describe the rankings in much detail, but I have provided links to papers/websites where possible (some of the sources require a subscription, I am sorry about that).
Probably the most famous ranking is the one compiled by the National Research Council (1995). It surveyed 208 political scientists who were asked to rate the “scholarly quality of program faculty.” The top 5 was Harvard, UC Berkeley, Yale, Michigan and Stanford. U.S. News also ranks graduate departments in political science, based on surveys sent to department heads and directors of graduate programs who are asked to rate departments on their academic quality (top 4, ranked in 2005, are Harvard, Stanford, Michigan, and Princeton; UC Berkeley, and Yale are tied for 5th). One noteworthy ranking (technically, only "rating") that also, in the end, relies on reputation, is the British Research Assessment Exercise. It’s noteworthy because of the impact of the ranking – much of the research money in the UK is distributed based on that particular ranking. By the way, both NRC and RAE are just in the process of compiling a new round of rankings – NRC will publish its data by the end of 2007.
Publication and citation based rankings
NRC did and does collect data on publications and citations, but there are various problems with the data (e.g., no weighing for publication quality whatsoever; and quite obvious errors were noted in citation counts). Not surprisingly, right after the 1995 NRC reputational rankings came out, there were a couple of rankings published that analyzed “objective” and “better” data. Miller, Tien & Peebler (1996) looked at publications in the top political science journal: The American Political Science Review, from the time period of 1954-94, and constructed various tables with rankings (they also took into account citations to authors who had published in the APSR). For example, most publications in the top journal were from faculty at Stanford, followed by Michigan, Harvard, Michigan State, Ohio State and Rochester. Ballard & Mitchell (1998) looked at publication records in nine leading journals (whether a journal was “leading” was determined by a survey conducted earlier). After controlling for faculty size, their top 5 includes California Institute of Technology, SUNY Stony Brook, Rochester, Iowa, and Houston. Among the most recent rankings is the Hix global ranking (working paper and data on his website) of political science departments, based on number of publications in a selection of political science journals, the impact factor of the journals where articles are published, and faculty size. Columbia, Harvard, Stanford, Ohio State and European University Institute come ahead. Masuoka and Grofman (forthcoming) look at which departments have the most highly-cited faculty. They construct various tables; for example, “citations per capita” top 5 is Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Michigan, and Cornell. Another very recent "objective" ranking is compiled by Academic Analytics (see an article about it). This ranking is based on the number of book and journal publications, faculty size, citations, grants and awards. The top 5 are Washington University (St. Louis), Harvard, Yale, SUNY Stony Brook, and Illinois.
There are a couple of rankings based on the work of the alumni of a program. McCormick & Rice (1982; 2001) looked at whose graduates publish in five “leading journals” (a journal was leading if it was published by the national or one of the regional political science associations). Michigan, UC Berkeley, Chicago, Rochester and Indiana are the top 5. In a later study, Rice, McCormick & Bergmann (2002) looked at whose graduates publish books that had been reviewed at the flagship journal APSR. Harvard, UC Berkeley, Yale, Chicago and Princeton top that list (when weighed by size of the graduating class, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Case Western Reserve and UC Berkeley are at the top). Masuoka and Grofman look at which departments have produced the highest number of highly-cited faculty (determined by being in top 400 of all faculty). The top 5 are Harvard, Yale, UC Berkeley, Michigan, and Chicago. They also look at placement records (additional tables and figures) as such – the top 5 in 1991-2000 placements were Harvard, UC Berkeley, Michigan, Princeton, and Chicago.
Finally, there are a couple of rankings of individual political scientists. Miller, Tien & Peebler (1996) looked at publications and citations in the APSR. The most recent ranking, Political Science 400, and based on a citation count, (full excel spreadsheet here) was just published by Masuoka, Grofman and Feld in the January 2007 issue of the journal PS: Political Science and Politics (most of the rankings and articles referenced above are from that journal). This is the first paper in a series of three (two papers are noted above); more information is available on Grofman's website.