Top research universities in the US

17 June 2016

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It's a battle between the east and west coast

For a fourth year in a row, Harvard University has topped the list of universities in the United States with the largest research output in the Nature Index.

Since 2012, Harvard's contribution to articles in 68 top journals has outperformed any other university in the country. Its top-placing in 2015 comes despite a drop in its contribution to the index, a metric known as weighted fractional count (WFC), of more than 10% since 2014. Harvard's weighted fractional count slipped from 858.05 in 2014 to 772.33 last year.

The university, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is ranked second on the global ranking of top research institutions, behind the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

It will be some time before second-placed Stanford University on the country's west coast catches up to its east coast rival. Stanford jumped to second position after increasing its research output by more than 11% on the previous year, when it ranked third behind Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2014. MIT, also based in Cambridge, ranked third last year.

Three members of the University of California system also made the top 10 US research universities in 2015, namely UC Berkeley, UC San Diego and the University of California Los Angeles.

Columbia University in New York City is the only new entrant into the 2015 top 10, having increased its contribution to the index by 4% from 2014 to 2015.

More than 2,000 US institutions have published articles included in the index since 2012.

By Nicky Phillips

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