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Methodology: Ranking the World’s Most Innovative Universities

To create our ranking of the world’s most innovative universities, Reuters News relied on data compiled by our sister company, Thomson Reuters Intellectual Property & Science and several of its research platforms: InCites, Web of Science Core Collection, Derwent Innovations Index, Derwent World Patents Index, and Patents Citation Index.

The process began by identifying the 500 academic and government organizations that published the greatest number of articles in scholarly journals from 2008 to 2013, as indexed in the Thomson Reuters Web of Science Core Collection database. The list was cross referenced against the number of patents filed by each organization during the same time period in the Derwent World Patents Index and the Derwent Innovations Index. Patent equivalents, citing patents and citing articles were included up to July 2015. The timeframe allows for the articles and patent activity to receive citations, thereby contributing to that portion of the methodology.

The list was reduced to just those institutions that filed 70 or more patents, the bulk of which were universities. Each candidate university was then evaluated using various indicators including how often a university’s patent applications were granted; how many patents were filed with global patent offices and local authorities; and how often the university's patents were cited by others. Universities were also evaluated in terms of how often their research papers were cited by patents; and the percentage of articles that featured a co-author from industry.

Since some university systems, such as the University of California, centralize their patent administration, it's not possible to identify which of the various campuses was responsible for the initial research, so in these cases the entire system was ranked, as opposed to an individual campus.

Further complicating matters is the fact that not all universities publicly list their name on their patent or use complex name variants. For example, patents by the University of Oxford are filed under the name ISIS Innovations Ltd. In such instances, the name of the entity administrating patents for a university was identified and the patents then associated with the university by the Thomson Reuters analysts.

The following are the criteria that contributed to the composite score, which in turn determined the ranking of the universities according to innovative capacity and achievement.

Patent Volume

Source: Derwent World Patents Index, Derwent Innovations Index
The number of basic patents (patent families) filed by the organization. This is an indication of research output that has a potential for commercial value. The number is limited only to those patents that are registered with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Patent Success

Source: Derwent World Patents Index, Derwent Innovations Index
The ratio of patent applications to grants over the assessed timeframe. This indicates the university’s success in filing applications that are then accepted.

Global Patents

Source: Derwent World Patents Index, Derwent Innovations Index
The percentage of patents for which coverage was sought with the U.S., European and Japanese patent offices. Filing an international patent is an expensive and laborious process and filing in multiple countries or regions is an indication that the invention is considered to be nontrivial and has commercial value.

Patent Citations

Source: Patents Citation Index
The total number of times a patent has been cited by other patents. As part of the patent inspection process, the patent office examiner will cite significant prior art. The number of times a patent has been cited is an indication that it has an impact on other commercial R&D.

Patent Citation Impact

Source: Patents Citation Index
This is an indication of how much impact a patent has had. Because it is a ratio (or average), it is not dependent on the size of the organization. Note that the indicator Percent of Patents Cited (listed below) is closely related to this indicator, therefore these two indicators are given half the weighting of all others.

Percent of Patents Cited

Source: Patents Citation Index
This indicator is the proportion of patents that have been cited by other patents one or more times. As mentioned, it is closely tied to the Patent Citation Impact indicator.

Patent to Article Citation Impact

Source: Patents Citation Index, Derwent World Patents Index, Web of Science Core Collection
Similar to Patent Citation Impact, this indicator measures the average number of times a journal article has been cited by patents. This unique indicator demonstrates that basic research conducted in an academic setting (as recorded in scholarly articles) has had influence and impact in the realm of commercial research & development (as measured by patents).

Industry Article Citation Impact

Source: Web of Science Core Collection
Article-to-article citations are an established indicator of influence and research impact. By limiting the citing articles only to those from industry, this indicator reveals the influence and impact that basic research conducted in an academic setting has had on commercial research.

Percent of Industry Collaborative Articles

Source: Web of Science Core Collection
The percentage of all articles of a university that contain one or more co-authors from a commercial entity. This indicator shows the percentage of research activity that is conducted in collaboration with industry, suggesting potential future economic impact of the research project jointly undertaken.

Total Web of Science Core Collection Papers

Source: Web of Science Core Collection
The total number of journal articles published by the organization. This is a size-dependent measure of the research output of the university.

Final Score

The indicators were used to rank each of the universities and the composite score was achieved by summing the ranks for each criterion for each university. Each indicator was weighted equally with the exception of Patent Citation Impact and Percent of Patents Cited, which received 50 percent weighting each since they are closely related in measuring the same phenomenon.

State of Innovation

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