National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) leads globally in the emerging field of alternative energy research. According to the latest academic ranking of research institutions done by Elsevier, the world's major publisher of science and medicine literature, NCKU ranks the 19th worldwide in alternative energy research papers of distinctive competency, which is the only Taiwanese institution among the global top 25 list. NCKU's outstanding accomplishment in alternative energy research has contributed significantly to the development of this field.
Academician Michael Ming-Chiao Lai (賴明詔), President of NCKU, commented that NCKU is the only Taiwanese university listed on this global top 25 list, which means that NCKU's alternative energy research papers not only excel in both quality and quantity, but most importantly they are cross-disciplinary ones. The Ministry of Education (MOE) allocated the special funding of five year 50 billion NTD (5Y50B) to boost domestic universities to advance at least one field to top-tier status globally. Since NCKU's rankings soar in global rankings done by Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan (HEEACT Ranking) and Essential Science Index (ESI), both can serve as evidences that NCKU has met the expectations of MOE, and we should be proud of this achievement.
President Lai also commented that there is a journey lying ahead for NCKU to tread on to become a world class university, and all NCKU faculty members, students and staff should work together towards this goal. The current accomplishment shows that NCKU's research expertise has achieved a certain degree of quality, which will lay a solid foundation for NCKU to attract more masters to join this school.
In the HEEACT 2009 Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities published on July 30th, 2009, compared to last year, NCKU has moved 21 places up and ranks 307 worldwide in comprehensive evaluation, which is only second to National Taiwan University (NTU) among all Taiwanese universities. However, in rankings of subject fields, NCKU's College of Engineering exceeds that of NTU and ranks the 30th globally.
Moreover, according to statistics resulted from 2009 Essential Science Indicators database from Thomson Reuters(TRI), NCKU's materials science field ranks 52nd worldwide, together with the 30th ranking of engineering worldwide and 19th ranking worldwide of alternative energy distinctive competency research papers, NCKU has three research fields ranking top 100 worldwide. This fact indeed showcases NCKU's research expertise can match international standards!
A recent study by the new methodology developed by Elsevier revealed that NCKU produced 61 alternative energy research papers of distinctive competencies (DC) during the five years period of 2003-2007. Taiwan ranks the 5th worldwide in the area of Solar/Photovoltaic Research. National Cheng Kung University ranks the 19th worldwide in alternative energy research based on a new methodology for identifying multidisciplinary research leadership.
To develop an alternative methodology for identifying scientific leadership, Elsevier adopts a reference-based classification, in which 2.1 million highly cited references are clustered into 40,400 categories and 5.6 million current articles are then assigned to this classification system. The categories, or "paradigms," in which a university has a leadership position are identified, and the cluster of related paradigms where a university has a leadership position is defined as its "distinctive competencies."
Therefore, DC represent expertise of an institution in specific research areas and reveal the degree to which an institution has constructed multidisciplinary networks with the organization focusing on achieving specific breakthroughs, which is unlike papers being published in isolated silos. Elsevier argued that examining output in DC, compared to traditional measurement methods by simply counting the total number of published papers, offers a more accurate way of determining real research leadership.
Dick Klavans, Senior Development Advisor for Elsevier A & G and also a presenter at the webcast is quoted as saying that "There is a common misperception that the most significant research is being conducted at only a handful of top-ranked universities," and "There is a need to look beyond total paper counts as leaders in specific sub-topics exist within all levels of the university rankings. Examining distinctive competencies shines a light on overlooked output and unrecognized leaders."
Over 1,000 academic and government executives, researchers and librarians joined live or viewed the recorded version of the webcast "Research Leadership Redefined: measuring performance in a multidisciplinary landscape" organized by Elsevier in Amsterdam recently.
The study employs SciVal Spotlight, a research performance measurement tool built to reflect the current structure of science. Co-citation analysis is conducted on a comprehensive database including 5.6 million separate papers published between 2003 and 2007 and another 2 million of the heavily cited reference works within these papers. Elsevier stated that they will strive to be true to accuracy and transparency in the adoption and development of their methodology.
Elsevier admitted that the relatively new technique called "science mapping" is still under experimentation for improvement and better techniques are needed to label distinctive competencies. However, by increasing the number of science building blocks from 554 disciplines to 40,400 paradigms, a finer structure of research that can better model the real science is constructed. This also reveals new areas of science, especially research on important social issues such as global warming and environmental degradation can be strengthened. Elsevier argued that the most important benefit of science mapping is that it can reveal the specific research strength of a university, be it achieved or on-going.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, US, with a total of 309 papers in DC, ranked top and US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, with 271 DC papers, ranked the 2nd. The Helmholtz Centre Berlin for Materials and Energy, Germany, with 240 DC papers, ranked the 3rd and the Forschungszentrum Julich, Germany, with 234 DC papers, ranked the 4th on this list. Among the top 25 institutions, 12 are North American institutions (11 US and 1 Canadian), 4 are European institutions (2 German, 1 British, and 1 Dutch), and 9 are Asian institutions (3 Japanese, 3 Chinese, 1 Taiwanese, 1 Singaporean, and 1 Korean).
The three main alternative energy sub-topics or topic groups defined by Elsevier in this study include solar/photovoltaic, fuel cells and environmentally-related areas such as efficiency, renewable energy, biomass, wind, etc. The NCKU alternative energy research team include: biomass – Prof. Wen-Teng Wu (吳文騰), Dean of College of Engineering, Prof. Jo-Shu Chang (張嘉修), Department of Chemical Engineering, Prof. Mei-Jywan Syu (許梅娟), Department of Chemical Engineering; hydrogen energy – Prof. Wei-Hsiang Lai (賴維祥) and Prof. Fei-Bin Hsiao (蕭飛賓) of Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics; wind power – Prof. Ta-Hui Lin (林大惠) and Prof. Yung-Chun Lee (李永春) of Department of Mechanical Engineering, Prof. Fei-Bin Hsiao (蕭飛賓) of Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics; solar power – Prof. Tsorng-Juu Liang (梁從主) and Prof. Ching-Ting Lee (李清庭) of Department of Electrical Engineering; solar cells – Prof. Yu-Min Yang (楊毓民) and Prof. Yu-Lang Lee (李玉郎) of Department of Chemical Engineering; solar thermal energy – Prof. Keh-Chin Chang (張克勤) of Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.