Measure 4: Output

How ‘Output’ was measured and the results the 2017 study produced.

Output (weight of 40%)

The measures used in this module encompass research output and its impact, student throughput, the national stock of graduates and researchers, the quality of a nation’s best universities, and employability of graduates. The variables are given below.

  • O1: (10%) Total articles produced by higher education institutions, 2014.
  • O2: (3%) Total articles produced by higher education institutions per head of population, 2014. 
  • O3: (5%) Average impact of articles as measured by citations in 2014 to articles published in previous years using the Karolinska Institute normalized impact factor. 
  • O4: (3%) The depth of world class universities in a country. This is calculated as a weighted average of the number of institutions listed in the top 500 according to the 2016 Shanghai Jiao Tong scores, divided by country population. 
  • O5: (7%) The excellence of a nation’s best universities calculated by totalling the 2016 Shanghai Jiao Tong scores for the nation’s three best universities. 
  • O6: (3%) Enrolments in tertiary education as a percentage of the eligible population, defined as the five-year age group following on from secondary education, 2014. 
  • O7: (3%) Percentage of the population aged 25–64 with a tertiary qualification, 2015. 
  • O8: (3%) Number of researchers (full-time equivalent) in the nation per million of population, 2014. 
  • O9: (3%) Unemployment rates among tertiary educated aged 25–64 years compared with unemployment rates for those with only upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education, 2015. 


The top country in the output module is clearly the United States. The United Kingdom is second. Australia is third followed by near equal scores for Canada, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. These top seven countries retain the same ranks as in the 2016 rankings. Lower down in the rankings, Croatia has risen six places to 34th and Argentina has improved five places to 36th. Chile and Turkey have each fallen six places to 41st and 44th respectively.

The median increase in publications is 8.8% but much larger increases occurred in Russia (64%), Indonesia (41%) and South Africa (23%). The Russian increase may, in part, reflect a greater journal coverage by Scopus. Publications per head of population remain highest in Australia followed by Sweden and Denmark, and then Finland and Switzerland. The top country for the average research impact of articles is Switzerland, but there is little difference in the scores for the top six countries: in alphabetical order the others are Denmark, the Netherlands, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States. Participation rates (O6) are highest in Greece, Korea, Spain, Finland, Canada and the United States. Canada has replaced Russia as the country with the most qualified workforce (55% have a tertiary qualification); Russia is ranked second followed by Japan, Singapore and Israel. The national stock of researchers relative to population is highest in Israel, Denmark and Finland; next come Korea, Sweden and Singapore. Unemployment of the tertiary educated relative to school leavers (O9) is lowest in Hungary, South Africa, the United States and Poland. The largest improvement occurred in the United States; deterioration was greatest in Finland and Brazil. In five countries unemployment is higher for those with a tertiary qualification: Malaysia, Mexico, Taiwan-China, Thailand and Saudi Arabia.