Methodology of QS rankings by Elizabeth Redden

“That a major university ranker with global influence used a paid survey site to collect responses has raised some eyebrows: Brian Leiter, a professor and director of the Center for Law, Philosophy, and Human Values at the University of Chicago who first posted the professor’s account on his blog, went so far as to call the QS rankings “a fraud on the public.”  Ben Sowter, head of the intelligence unit for the London-based company Quacquarelli Symonds, which creates the rankings, acknowledged that QS contracted with a Utah-based company, Qualtrics, on a trial basis to obtain 400 responses from U.S. academics through a variety of channels, one of which was Opinion Outpost. Sowter said QS has not since that 2012 trial used an approach in which survey respondents received a cash reward, but he defended the general practice of offering modest incentives. “The notion of providing incentives for surveys is not a new one,” he said, adding that this year the company is providing respondents with free downloads of QS reports and that in the past it has entered respondents into drawings for prizes (i.e., an iPad).”

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