How do we know what we know? Empirical methodologies for studying college rankings

Jeongeun Kim, Michael Bastedo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Reflecting the attention to various college rankings among the stakeholders of higher education, research on rankings has significantly increased over the last two decades. In this chapter, the authors examine methodological issues and ideas that are central to the study of college rankings. Focusing on the empirical research, impact of rankings on institutions’ attainment of key resources, and institutional behaviours in response to ranking systems, we explain the data and analytic approaches employed by those studies. With examples from selected studies, the authors examine what aspects of rankings are addressed and what inferences are made about rankings, each presenting strengths and weaknesses. This chapter will identify gaps in knowledge that could provide fruitful directions for new studies, examine threats to valid interpretation, consider issues researchers should consider as they design new studies, and identify the distinct research questions that each methodological approach is best poised to answer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on University Rankings
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Methodology, Influence and Impact
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781788974981
ISBN (Print)9781788974974
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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