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Release: Immediate

Journal ranks UI political science department fourth in nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A new list in a leading political science journal ranks the University of Iowa department of political science fourth in the nation based on the number of publications by its faculty in the top journals in the discipline. The list, published in the journal PS: Political Science and Politics, ranks departments by quality of publications per faculty member.

"This study factors out the halo effects of faculty size and university reputations. The result is the disciplinary standing of the departments by the quality of their journal publications," said John Nelson, chairman of the UI political science department.

In an article that analyzes the rankings, the authors note that the overall size of faculties and the general reputations of universities distort earlier studies of department quality, including the ones compiled by the National Research Council.

Failing to adjust for size, the authors explain, can punish a small department. Iowa has only 23 faculty members in political science. By contrast, the University of Michigan has 52 faculty members in the same discipline.

"If rankings are unavoidable, then let them reflect actual rather than perceived research, departmental achievements as distinct from university prestige, and faculty productivity rather than departmental size," the PS authors write. Setting aside the advantages of large size and university reputation, Michigan falls from 3rd in the NRC ranking to 33rd in the PS study. Iowa climbs from 25th to 4th.

According to PS, the top 10 political science departments are: California Institute of Technology; State University of New York - Stony Brook; University of Rochester; University of Iowa; University of Houston; Carnegie Mellon University; Michigan State University; Texas A&M University; Stanford University; and University of Georgia.

Big Ten political science departments among the top 50 are: University of Iowa (4); Michigan State University (7); Ohio State University (11); University of Minnesota (18); Indiana University (19); University of Michigan (33); and University of Wisconsin-Madison (44).