About Professor Simon Haslett

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Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
Professor of Physical Geography and Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wales and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Did a tsunami occur in the midst of Typhoon Haiyan?

A news article from the Philippines is asking whether a tsunami occurred in the midst of the terrible Typhoon Haiyan on 8th November. Haiyan is purported to be the most intense typhoon to make landfall in history, and it was certainly accompanied by a widespread severe storm surge that devastated coastal communities.

However, a series of four waves are reported to have come ashore at a time when the rain had stopped and the wind had died down. The report came from the coastal town of Basey in Samar Province situated in a bay on the east coast of the island.

An eyewitness recounts that the sea receded some distance, leaving fish stranded on the exposed seabed, followed by the approach of a wave about 10ft (c. 3m) high that inundated the town. A further three waves followed and are reported to have washed away people and property.


Storm surges pile water up at the coastline through strong onshore winds and low atmospheric pressure and are unlikely to allow the sea to recede in the same way that a tsunami does. Although large tsunami are associated with high magnitude earthquakes, they may also be caused through submarine slides, or a combination of both. Examples exist where storms have affected ocean loading and apparently contributed to triggering both earthquakes and submarine slides. Indeed, in the Philippine Sea a link between seasonality and earthquakes has been suggested previously. Therefore, the possibility that a tsunami occurred in the midst of the typhoon, however unlikely it may seem, should not be discounted without further investigation.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Webometric Ranking of Welsh Higher Education Institutions

The Webometrics Ranking of World Universities July 2013 Edition was published in August and I have now had a chance to look at the performance of Welsh higher education institutions (see table below).

Welsh Rank
Higher Education Institution
World Ranking
Europe Ranking
UK Ranking
1
393
143
28
2
582
202
40
3
=702
279
47
4
=702
280
48
5
3513
879
121`
6
4260
994
136
7
4423
1019
138
8
5445
1172
146
9
6421
1296
157
10
7511
1454
175
11
8837
1651
201
12
9369
1732
210
13
9877
1810
216
14
12428
2175
264
15
12631
2209
268

The Webometric Ranking is weighted on the number of backlinks from external websites to an institutions web domain (50% weighted), the size (number of pages) of an institutions website (20%), institutional presence on GoogleScholar (15%) (I posted a ranking of UK universities research impact based on Google Scholar results earlier this year), and the number of rich files (pdf, doc, ppt, etc) published online (15%). Rather than being a research indicator, it is suggested the rankings reflect the broader academic activity and visibility of an institution. Over 20,000 institutions are included in the July 2013 Edition with 308 from the UK.

For Wales, there are no surprises in the ranking of the 15 higher education institutions included, except for the University of SouthWales, which is ranked 13th due to its recent establishment through the merger of the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport, and the introduction of a new web domain name. Swansea Metropolitan University has recently merged with the University of Wales: Trinity Saint David and should, presumably, not appear in the next edition of the rankings if its domain name is changed.

Monday, 15 April 2013

British Conference of Undergraduate Research 2013

Some photographs from Day 1 of the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) 2013 today at the University of Plymouth.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A ranking of UK universities research impact based on Google Scholar results


I have been seeking a ranking of the research impact of UK universities for use in a research-teaching nexus project I am undertaking on the relationship between university research impact and student satisfaction. In the past such rankings have been achieved through, for example, the use of citation data from the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) through the Web of Knowledge (Meho and Yang, 2007). However, it is argued that ISI indices are limited in coverage, being restricted to certain journals and excludes a large amount of conference and other potential research impact sources (Harzing and Van der Wal, 2007Franceschet, 2010), which may be important data for smaller institutions.

Google Scholar was launched in 2004 and is now recognised as an alternative to ISI data (Moskovkin, 2009) and, indeed, has wider coverage of data sources (Kousha and Thelwall, 2007). It is not without its limitations and problems with accuracy though, however, some researchers have found good agreement between Google Scholar-based analyses of research impact and formal research audits (e.g. Smith, 2008). Therefore, I have undertaken an exploratory research impact ranking exercise of UK universities based on results from Google Scholar and, although, I haven't as yet compared these data with student satisfaction data, the results are interesting enough to publish here and may be of use to others (see Table 1 below).

The methodology involves entering the institutional name into the search field in Google Scholar (as it appears in Table 1). The names are enclosed within quotation marks, so that the precise name only is returned in the results. All 'any time' results, with 'include citations' and 'include patents', are included in the results. The data collection was performed on 7th January 2013. Table 1 presents the ranked results.

Table 1. Ranking of UK universities based on Google Scholar results.

RankHigher Education InstitutionResults
1University of Manchester2460000
2University of Cambridge1650000
3University of London1630000
4University College London1470000
5University of Oxford1360000
6Open University1240000
7University of Edinburgh906000
8Imperial College London615000
9University of Wales573000
10University of Birmingham529000
11University of Glasgow511000
12University of Bristol473000
13University of Leeds394000
14University of Sheffield381000
15Institute of Education353000
16University of Southampton345000
17University of Liverpool331000
18University of Nottingham294000
19University of York262000
20University of Reading260000
21University of Sussex218000
22University of Warwick196000
23University of Aberdeen151000
24King's College London146000
25University of Leicester144000
26University of Newcastle upon Tyne135000
27University of Durham131000
28University of Bath115000
29University of Surrey113000
30University of East Anglia108000
31University of Essex95600
32University of Exeter95500
33University of St Andrews93800
34Lancaster University93200
35University of Strathclyde92800
36Cardiff University82500
37University of Kent73900
38Loughborough University72200
39University of Dundee65800
40School of Oriental and African Studies63100
41London School of Economics and Political Science61700
42University of Hull61000
43Brunel University53600
44Queen's University Belfast49200
45University of Bradford46100
46University of Ulster45600
47University of Stirling45100
48Royal Holloway44800
49University of Salford44500
50Heriot-Watt University44400
51Queen Mary, University of London38200
52Birkbeck College36300
53Keele University31100
54Manchester Metropolitan University31100
55University of Plymouth30700
56Aston University30300
57City University, London28500
58University of Portsmouth27900
59Middlesex University26700
60University of the West of England25500
61De Montfort University23800
62University of Hertfordshire23800
63Kingston University22700
64University of Westminster22200
65Nottingham Trent University21700
66Sheffield Hallam University21700
67Oxford Brookes University21000
68University of Brighton20600
69University of Greenwich19900
70Liverpool John Moores University19400
71Bournemouth University18200
72Coventry University17900
73St George's Hospital Medical School17900
74University of Huddersfield17700
75Royal Veterinary College17600
76University of Central Lancashire16600
77Swansea University16100
78Goldsmiths College15200
79Glasgow Caledonian University14800
80Leeds Metropolitan University14600
81University of Glamorgan14300
82University of East London13800
83University of Wolverhampton13300
84Bangor University13200
85London Metropolitan University12600
86Staffordshire University12500
87University of Sunderland11000
88Robert Gordon University10500
89University of Northumbria9190
90Courtauld Institute of Art8600
91University of Lincoln8100
92Aberystwyth University7690
93London South Bank University7640
94University of Derby7280
95Royal College of Music7070
96Royal Academy of Music5770
97University of Northampton4710
98Roehampton University4700
99Anglia Ruskin University4560
100Canterbury Christ Church University4370
101University of Gloucestershire4300
102University of Bedfordshire4230
103Queen Margaret University3870
104Edinburgh Napier University3810
105University of Buckingham3760
106University of Abertay Dundee3670
107University of Wales Institute, Cardiff3410
108University of the Arts London3310
109Royal Agricultural College3230
110Liverpool Hope University3080
111University of Chester3060
112Birmingham City University2980
113University of the West of Scotland2900
114Teesside University2570
115University of Worcester2560
116Edge Hill University2510
117Glasgow School of Art2400
118University of Bolton2250
119Bath Spa University2140
120Heythrop College2020
121Brighton and Sussex Medical School1770
122York St John University1660
123University of Winchester1440
124Southampton Solent University1430
125University of Wales, Newport1400
126Buckinghamshire New University1330
127Ravensbourne1290
128Cardiff Metropolitan University1290
129Glyndwr University1260
130Harper Adams University College1220
131University of Cumbria1190
132University of West London1130
133University of Chichester991
134Central School of Speech and Drama969
135Royal Northern College of Music864
136St Mary's University College666
137Writtle College609
138Newman University College468
139Stranmillis University College418
140University College Falmouth414
141Swansea Metropolitan University404
142University College Birmingham352
143Medway School of Pharmacy341
144University of Wales: Trinity Saint David338
145Rose Bruford College305
146Guildhall School of Music & Drama235
147Bishop Grosseteste University College217
148University for the Creative Arts213
149Leeds College of Art202
150Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts153
151Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama118
152Leeds Trinity University College103
153Hull and York Medical School80
154University College Plymouth St Mark & St John67
155Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance64
156Arts University College at Bournemouth56
157Norwich University College of the Arts53
158St Mary's University College Belfast47
159Conservatoire for Dance and Drama41


Although this ranking is preliminary, a number of issues emerged as the exercise was performed. Some institutions have exactly the same name as other institutions, such as the Open University (see the Open University Malaysia as an example), which returns an artificially higher number of results. Also, results for the University of London and the University of Wales, both appearing in the top ten, benefit from a number of current and previous member institutions who include the name within their own e.g. Queen Mary, University of London. I would welcome any other observations on the use of Google Scholar results as an indicator of institutional research impact.

In terms of the institutions ranked within the top ten, excepting the observations above, there seem to be few surprises as all are well-established internationally-renowned institutions. It is interesting to note England, Scotland and Wales are represented in the top ten, and might be one of the only university rankings to achieve this. There is a wide range of results returned by institution (differences in millions), with a long tail of institutions that might either be newer institutions and/or not research active.

References