Tromsø among the top 100 linguistics departments worldwide

QS World University Rankings is one of the most thorough attempts to quantify quality at the world’s universities. I don’t know how accurate they are but I know I like this result: Once again this year, Tromsø is ranked among the top 100 linguistics departments in the world.

The ratings are based on a combination of field-specific citations and h-indices and survey results of the institutions’ reputations (university-wide), both academically and as employers. So a great university-wide reputation like that of Oxford or Harvard can help push a department higher up on the list, while a department at a weaker university has to stand out with highly cited publications in its field to make it onto the list. In the case of Tromsø, the university itself is only in 377th place, so it seems that the department’s strong showing must be due to our producing work which gets cited.

Of course any such worldwide quantification of quality has to be taken with a grain of salt but most of the great linguistics departments seem to be on the list so in this case it seems most prudent to go with it.

Tromsø’s Medicine, Archaeology, and Biology departments are also highly ranked, but no other department at the University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway is in the top 100 in its field, making us by one measure the best department at the University!

In linguistics (as in much else), MIT and Harvard are at the very top of the QS list, along with UMass Amherst; Stanford is not far behind. In fact, MIT, Harvard, and Stanford are the top three universities overall, according to the QS list. In linguistics, some University of California campuses jostle with Penn, Maryland, NYU and Chicago for top places.

Eleven European linguistics departments are also among the top 50, including Cambridge, Edinburgh, UCL, Manchester, Amsterdam, and Humboldt in Berlin, all of which we have regular interactions with. Two strong universities also figuring in the top 50 on the list are Oxford and Lomonosov in Moscow, both of which we have occasional interactions with. Helsinki is number 46, perhaps because of their strong presence in language technology. Lancaster and Birmingham are also among the top 50, though their specialties appear not to overlap substantially with ours (I couldn’t have named a single linguist at Lancaster before I checked their website).

Tromsø didn’t make it into the top 50 but is in the unordered bottom 50 of the top 100, along with 21 other European linguistics departments. They are: in Scandinavia, Lund, Stockholm, and Oslo (sorry, NTNU!); in the UK, Queen Mary, SOAS, Newcastle, York, King’s College London, and Nottingham; in the Netherlands, Utrecht, Leiden, and Radboud; in Germany, Potsdam and Freie Universität Berlin; in Spain (er, Catalonia), Barcelona and Pompeu Fabra; and in the rest of Europe, Paris IV, KU Leuven, Vienna, Zurich, and Saint Petersburg State University.

In addition to the 33 European and 31 US linguistics departments in the top 100, there are 22 departments in Asian countries, 7 in Australia, 5 in Canada, and one each in New Zealand and Mexico.

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