January 9, 2011

· Data · Sociology

I think we can all agree that the NRC rankings were a disaster. So, Steve Vaisey and I think that we can generate a new list from scratch. Using Matt Salganik’s excellent “All Our Ideas” site, we’ve set up a tool for pairwise comparison of Sociology Departments. The goal is to get as many head-to-head snap judgments as possible. You can vote as many times as you like — in fact, it’s encouraged. The implicit ranking is generated from the whole collection of pairwise comparisions. Just go to


and get voting!

To learn more about All Our Ideas see here.

Update: So, based on publicity from a) this post, b) a tweet, and c) some Facebook status updates, we’re pushing towards 20,000 pairwise votes after about five hours. Not bad. And the results so far look pretty good, certainly if you think of them less as perfectly differentiated ranks and more as banded estimates.

Update 2: Incidentally, several people have taken advantage of the “suggest your own idea” option. Suggestions fall into three categories. First, universities outside North America, which I haven’t been including. Second, schools that are already on the list: San Diego, Riverside, Penn — if you haven’t come across them in your voting, it’s because you haven’t waited long enough to see them. All of the schools ranked in Sociology by the NRC are included. Third, options such as “Harvard Social Relations c. 1955”, “People Who Have Left the University of Wisconsin-Madison”, and (the cleverest one so far) “Tri-Valley Center for Human Potential”. These aren’t going to make it on the list.

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I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.



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