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UC San Diego Ranked 3rd Among U.S. Public Universities in High-Quality Research

Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego


  • Kim McDonald

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  • Kim McDonald

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The University of California San Diego ranked 3rd among public research universities in the United States in this year’s annual ranking of high-quality scientific research papers by the journal Nature.

In the Nature Index 2018 Annual Tables, the La Jolla campus ranked 12th in the world out of 500 institutions and 6th among U.S. universities in the research results its faculty, students and staff others published in 82 high-quality journals in 2017.

“The faculty and the quality of their research are the lifeblood of research universities,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Our position in this global ranking speaks volumes about the exceptional quality of the research conducted at UC San Diego, as well as the exceptional talents of our faculty and other researchers on campus.”

The Nature Index took into account the total number of papers at each institution as well as the share of authorship of each paper in pulling together its ranking of the top 500 universities in the world. Harvard University, Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institutes of Technology took the world’s top three spots for academic institutions.

They were followed by the University of Tokyo, UC Berkeley, at 5th, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, China’s Peking University, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, China’s Tsinghua University and the University of Michigan, at 11th. The latest Nature Index suggests that the United States is the world's largest contributor to high-quality scientific research papers, followed by China and Germany.

The journal noted that the U.S. retains its leading position, despite a slight decline in output from last year. The editors of the index also noted that U.S. high-quality research output remains more than double that of China’s, which continues its sharp ascent. After the U.S, China and Germany, South Africa and Brazil are regional leaders. The Chinese Academy of Sciences is the leading international institution in the 2018 tables. The increasingly global nature of high-quality research publishing – including China’s dramatic rise – has led to considerable competition between institutions looking to place their research in the finite space available in the world’s top journals.

Forty nine institutions from China have improved their positions in the global top 500 institutions tables from the previous year, with an additional 14 Chinese institutions entering the top 500 and only 15 losing ground. In contrast, 62 U.S. institutions increased their rank and 74 dropped down. In Japan – fifth in the index overall – only four institutions gained positions compared to 15 that moved in the other direction.

For more information about UC San Diego’s rankings, go to the campus profile.

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