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What Rankings to trust


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Hi there!


It might sound a little stupid to make decision based on rankings. However, apart from the research area, rankings still might be one of the many factors that we will be looking into. For Computer Science, what rankings are reliable? US News or NRC? (or are there others?)


For top-5, there is not much difference, however for others, the rankings vary with a wide gap.


Thoughts please.





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As I understand it, in CS rankings are not reliable at all, for a start because most use journal articles (and surveys) to measure impact, while CS is very much conference-driven. Depending on what you're looking to do (i.e. an academic position) there are 'top' universities that help here as long as your record is also productive. But many people from middle-tier universities still get professorship positions. 


H-index by department isn't a terrible measure of activity within a research area. Microsoft Academic (http://academic.research.microsoft.com/) tracks this, and for my area of Data Mining it's a very plausible ranking (http://academic.research.microsoft.com/RankList?entitytype=7&topdomainid=2&subdomainid=7&last=10&orderby=1). For my area, the traditional top-ranked schools aren't much use (MIT, Berkeley, etc). 


I think far more important is finding the right advisor. I've seen people struggle for years with a poor fit of an advisor and it's a disaster: you dont get to work on what you want, you aren't developing your skills as well as you should, you probably aren't enjoying your work, and you probably aren't publishing at the level you want. I'd much rather be at a lower ranked school with a supportive advisor.

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