Who’s measuring?

It seems that academic auditing is the only industry that’s flourishing these days (that, and designing standardized tests for kindergarteners). In the absence of real answers from the deans and the FFAC, we turn to the professional data-miners who help our administrators understand the world and/or justify themselves.

Here are a few of the measures the graduate school considered when they decided which PhD programs did and didn’t make the excellence/eminence cut.

1. AcademicAnalytics is a private firm with a “member” database of “more than 9400 PhD programs at more than 385 universities.” Member institutions have access to data about, well, where they stand vis-a-vis other member institutions (insert Woody Allen joke here). Their top priorities are

  • the publication of scholarly work as books and journal articles
  • citations to published journal articles
  • research funding by federal agencies
  • honorific awards bestowed upon faculty members

If you’re comparing the departments within one universities, #2 and #3 are pretty much stacked against the humanities. Moreover, the analytic does not include research published in languages other than English or scholarly translation.

2. The U.S. National Research Council publishes rankings of doctoral programs every 10 years, these ones publicly available. Evidently, Spanish fared lower than some of Emory’s other language and literature departments. Here are their priorities:

  • Publications per allocated faculty member
  • Citations per publication (not included for humanities fields)
  • Percent faculty with grants
  • Awards per allocated faculty member
  • Percent interdisciplinary faculty
  • Percent non-Asian minority faculty
  • Percent female faculty
  • Average GRE scores
  • Percent 1st-yr. students with full support
  • Percent 1st-yr. students with external funding
  • Percent non-Asian minority students
  • Percent female students
  • Percent international students
  • Average PhDs, 2002 to 2006
  • Average completion percentage
  • Median time to degree
  • Percent students with academic plans
  • Student work space
  • Student health insurance
  • Number of student activities offered

3. The LGS is also obsessed with exclusivity. (We all know how well that worked for the College.) Excellence, I suppose, has something to do with a relatively low percentage of applicants being admitted. French apparently scored lower in this regard. The world is really cynical and all that.

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