Via The Australian : Deakin University has been deemed to have the best sports science department in the world in a new niche league table from the respected ShanghaiRanking.
The ranking found five Australian universities in the top 20, ten in the 50 and 22 in the top 300.
Deakin was followed by the University of Queensland (5), Edith Cowan (14), University of Western Australia (17), and Victoria University (19).
The Global Ranking of Sport Science Schools and Departments assesses key areas, including the number of times research work is cited by others globally, and the total number of papers published, with a score awarded for the number published in the top 25 per cent of journals in the world.
Deakin University vice-chancellor Jane den Hollander said being named first in the world for sports science was a reflection of the university’s approach to teaching and research.
“Deakin strives every day to be among the best in Australia, but today, and for the first time in our short history, one of our key disciplines is rated as the very best, the top in the world,” Professor den Hollander said.
In a statement ShanghaiRanking said with the global sporting industry undergoing enormous growth and with governments and wealthy individuals eager to invest in sporting events, facilities, agencies and sponsorships both inside and outside China, sports science was set to boom as an area of university research and study.
Tony Sheil, a rankings expert from Griffith University said an analysis by his team compared the Shanghai ranking with Australian university’s performance in the Excellence in Research Australia 2015 audit and the UK’s Research Excellence Framework in the comparable research field.
All Australian universities in the top 50 (apart from ECU) received an ERA *5, while all five UK universities had greater than 80 per cent of outputs rated at 4* or 3* (equivalent to *5 and *4 ratings in ERA), Mr Sheil said.
Of those listed in the 51-75 range the two Australian universities were *4 and *5 respectively, while just three of the nine from UK had greater than 80 per cent of outputs rated at 4* or 3*.
In the 101-200 range there was variability among the Australian universities ranging from ERA ratings of 2 to 5, while just one of 12 UK universities had greater than 80 per cent of outputs rated at 4* or 3*.
In the 201-300 range there were no ERA scores above 3 and while the 10 UK universities averaged 49 per cent of research outputs in the 2* or 1* category.
“This begs the question whether research assessment exercises can be undertaken relying on metrics alone (especially in citation disciplines), vastly reducing the cost of these exercises,” Mr Sheil said.
“The answer is probably not as the rankings still seem to privilege scale and therefore are not sufficiently effective in identifying small pockets of excellence. Although there appears to be a correlation between the ranking and ERA/REF ratings, the presence of several outliers (e.g. UTS rated *5 in 151-200 range) suggest that a simplified methodology such as this cannot yet supplant human judgment.
“In this case the ranking of sport science embraces a broad mixture of human movement, physiology, sport science, sport management, nutrition, dietetic and public health potentially throwing the net too wide.”
The ranking found 143 European institutions in the top 300, with more than half from Britain. The US produced 64 institutions on the list of 300.
Other Australian universities named on the list were: QUT (43); ACU (43); Monash (45); Melbourne (46); Sydney (48); Griffith (51-75); Newcastle (77-100); Flinders, Murdoch and RMIT (101-150); CSU, Curtin, UTS, USC (151-200) and Federation and JCU (201-300),