The National Research Council (NRC) in the U.S. released a revised edition of its 2010 assessment of American research doctorate programs in late April. Jonathan R. Cole has written a piece about the rankings. This is an excerpt:
My assertion that the NRC study was not permitted to fail is predicated on the claim that the study was, in fact, a failure. In an effort to meet criticisms (some justified and others misguided) of the prior study, which was issued in 1995, the research-council committee spent a substantial amount of time early on debating a few important topics. In each case, I believe, it reached the incorrect conclusion, based on faulty assumptions, poor analysis, political pressure from the academy, and unexamined preconceptions. Each factor increased the probability that its study would end in failure.
Indeed, one of the study's primary failures, which has plagued previous NRC rankings, was that the focus on data collection, correction of errors, and classifications, as well as decisions about what fields to include, led to a lack of funds toward the end of the study for the adequate analysis of findings. Reports like these become perfunctory. The usual response is, "We'll finance a follow-up volume of analysis." Those volumes rarely appear--letting stand weak reports and unwarranted conclusions.