Independent intellectual creative capacity developed through research is essential in enabling countries to take control of exploring, planning, and implementing their own most appropriate sustainable development paths. Given the scarce financial resources in many countries, areas of research focus must be carefully chosen so as to achieve maximum value from investment at a level that will have noticeable positive impact upon society. The Global Research Benchmarking System (GRBS) is intended to provide objective data and analyses to benchmark research performance in traditional disciplinary subject areas and in interdisciplinary areas for the purpose of strengthening the quality and impact of research. The GRBS supports universities to determine their own research profile and identify niche areas in which they can excel; to make more rational strategic and resource allocation decisions; and to publicize program strengths.
The GRBS is an open collaborative effort of the academic community. The governance structure includes an International Advisory Board providing expertise in university performance evaluation, Bibliometrics, and Sustainable Development, and representing diverse regional and stakeholder perspectives. To ensure continuous and ongoing academic community support and engagement, the GRBS website provides discussion forums on various aspects of university performance evaluation as a way to gather broad input and to foster discussion of these important issues.
A central tenet driving the GRBS is to provide insight to support the diversity of university research. To do so, university research performance is analyzed at a finer level of detail than has previously been done by any international ranking or evaluation system. In addition to broad subject categories like Engineering and Medicine, the GRBS provides detailed subject categories like Aerospace Engineering and Cardiology. The result is a system that is able to highlight the performance of universities with particular niche strengths and not only the largest and most comprehensive institutions.
The analytical tools are flexible so as to permit each user to focus on aspects of university research performance most relevant to his/her needs. The GRBS provides two functionalities: customized rating and benchmarking. The customized rating is available to all users, while the benchmarking is available to universities included in the system who register (free of charge). The customized rating function permits users to rate universities either overall, in any of the 15 broad subject areas, or in any of 251 niche subject areas by selecting subject areas and indicators and setting weights according to their needs. The benchmarking function permits universities covered by the system to compare their research performance with the performance of a benchmarking group universities of their choosing, again either overall or in any of the subject areas.
While the GRBS is beginning by focusing on university research benchmarking, we recognize that this is only one dimension of the diverse mission of universities and that there are also many other important types of institutions carrying out research. Future work will address other essential aspects of university performance such as education and community outreach as well as include research performance of research institutes, government agencies, and other institutions engaged in research.


  • Country coverage

    In order to be able to bring concrete value to a clear group of stakeholders in a timely manner, the scope of the first release of the GRBS has been intentionally limited. The 2012 release covers universities in Asia-Pacific, the US, and Canada. Asia-Pacific is taken to be Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)+3, South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), and 14 other countries and economies. While the selection criteria for inclusion of universities were applied to all countries in this list, not all countries contained universities meeting the selection criteria. Thus within Asia-Pacific the 2012 release includes universities from nine countries: Australia, China (treating Hong Kong and Taiwan separately), India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, S. Korea, and Thailand. In addition, the 2012 release also contains EU+2 countries. Refer to Coverage - University List for list of universities included in this release. Within the next several months it is planned to add research universities in the European Union, building on the work of EUMIDA. Work will also commence to cover universities in other major regions.
  • Fields

    The 2012 release covers established disciplines in Science & Technology, organized into a hierarchy of fifteen broad level disciplinary categories and 251 detail level categories. Refer to Methodology - All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) for the structured hierarchy of disciplines and sub-disciplines used.
  • Institutions

    This release of the GRBS covers universities and does not include research institutes, government agencies, or other institutions engaged in research.
  • Years

    The 2012 release uses Scopus publication and citation data in the time window 2008 - 2011 and presents a snapshot of university performance within that window. For subsequent releases the window will slide forward and provide additional data points so that users will be able to track changes in research performance over time.
  • Data

    Bibliometric data is taken from Elsevier's Scopus database. (see Coverage - Sources)