Data Notes

The raw data used for The Top American Research Universities project—obtained from federal agencies and national organizations—often contain information on single campus institutions, multiple campus institutions, and state university systems, without clearly identifying the distinctions. This makes national comparisons difficult and unreliable.

To increase the validity and usefulness of these data, The Center for Measuring University Performance adjusts the original reported figures, when necessary, to ensure that all data represent the strength of a single-campus institution. The MUP Center bases its adjustments on information gathered from the reporting agency or from the university itself. In cases where the published data represent a single campus, we do not adjust the data. When the data represent more than one campus, we first attempt to obtain a figure directly from NSF (for research expenditures and postdoctorates), from the institution itself, or from the university system office that submitted the data. If unavailable from those primary sources, we use an estimated or substitute figure derived from information found on the institution’s web site. As a last resort, we use prior-year data as a substitute.

If the institution provides an estimate representing at least 97% of the originally published figure, we credit the full amount to the main campus. Otherwise, we use the estimate provided by the institution.

The MUP Center does not adjust the private university data because of multi-campus or system-wide reporting. We treat all private universities in this study as single campus institutions, because while some may have multiple campuses, they generally are in or around a single city and considered an integral part of the main campus. Furthermore, private institutions generally do not break out their data by regional, branch, or affiliated campus, as often happens with public institutions.

The tables found in the back of each annual Top American Research Universities publication outline the various adjustments or substitutions that were made to the original data that particular reporting year for those institutions with more than $40 ($20 in prior years) million in federal research. Institutions are listed alphabetically and include both private and public universities.

Data Notes