Ranking the scholarly productivity of universities is a notoriously difficult task, with institutions rising or falling in the rankings based on whatever criteria are used. But a new study that used five different ranking methodologies arrived at a strikingly consistent result: The University of Georgia ranked first worldwide for its public administration research regardless of the method used.
"Our faculty in the School of Public and International Affairs are outstanding, and this new ranking is yet another indication of the quality of their scholarship," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. "Our students and our society as a whole benefit from their research-based insights into effective governance and public service."
The study, conducted by researchers at Erasmus University in the Netherlands, compared two main methods of assessing the quality of scholarly output: journal impact and journal reputation. The researchers then used different systems for assessing journal impact and reputation to arrive at five different rankings of scholarly productivity in the field of public administration from the years 2009-2013.
UGA is first in overall scholarly output, topping second-place Cardiff University in the United Kingdom and the third-place London School of Economics. When publication in just the top four most widely read journals is used to rank institutions, UGA retains its top spot and is followed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cardiff University in second and third places, respectively. UGA again places first when journal reputation is taken into account, with Indiana University coming in second. Regardless of how the authors analyzed the data, UGA came out on top.
"Our School of Public and International Affairs has long been considered one of the nation's best, and now we can proudly say that the University of Georgia is the world's best in terms of scholarly impact in public administration," said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. "This top global ranking is a reflection of the quality of our faculty and an indication of the world-class education that our students receive."
While faculty from several disciplines across campus conduct research in related fields, these new rankings primarily reflect the contributions of scholars in the department of public administration and policy in the university's School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA).
"Although the public administration and policy program at UGA is consistently ranked in the top four in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, this new study makes clear why: our faculty make an enormous contribution to scholarship in this academic field," said Dean Stefanie Lindquist.
Department head J. Edward Kellough noted that research conducted by faculty in the department addresses a wide range of issues central to the development of intelligent public policies and the provision of excellent public service through government and nonprofit organizations. A few examples of the kinds of issues addressed include: the impacts of public policies and public programs, the prerequisites for successful program implementation, the acquisition and management of public revenues, the development of effective human resources polices, the impacts of diversity in public organizations, and the nature of quality public management.
"Work in all of these, and related areas, is essential for the maintenance of effective public organizations and efficient governance," Kellough said.
The study is available on the Social Science Research Network and has been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Public Management.
SPIA is housed in the Candler Building, seen above, which was built in 1902 on old campus and was originally used as a dormitory.