University of Zurich is top 3 Research Excellence Center of Economics in Europe

The academic economic profession attaches a key role to peer-reviewed published research. Arguably more than in any other discipline, economics has an informal ranking of publication outlets which distinguish between "top five general audience journals" (American Economic Review, Econometrica, Journal of Political Economy, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Review of Economic Studies), top second-tier general audience journal, top-field journals, and other peer-reviewed journals. While the exact within-group ranking is subjective, there is a clear ranking between groups and an equally clear discontinuity between top-5 journals and the remaining reviews. Top-5 journals are a main criterion for appointments and promotions in the best American and European institutions, for instance. Which journals are the five most attractive outlets is undisputed in the profession. For these reasons, the number of publications in top-5 journals is a good measure of excellence in research. It is more precise and less controversial than any measure based on a broader set of journals, that would tend to favor the quantity over the quality of research. Using the database made public by Tilburg University, we constructed a ranking of the European Universities based on the number of top-5 publications between 2005-09. Here is the result:

  1. London School of Economics (UK) 78
  2. University College London (UK) 38
  3. University of Zurich (CH) 27
  4. University of Oxford (UK) 25
  5. University of Toulouse/Toulouse School of Econ. (France) 24
  6. Stockholm University (Sweden) 18
  7. Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain) 16
  8. University of Bonn (Germany) 15
  9. Università Bocconi (Italy) 14
  10. London Business School (UK)

The calculations in the Tilburg Ranking are based on the stated main affiliation of the researchers at the time of publication. This means that the success of researchers currently at the University of Zurich may be understated due to the fact that many active researchers only joined the department recently. It is interesting to check whether the top-5 criterion gives a reasonable ranking for US universities. The top 10 institutions are Harvard, Chicago, M.I.T., Berkeley, Stanford, Northwestern, Columbia, Princeton, New York University and Yale. These economic departments are regarded by most researchers as the ten strongest departments in the US.