I made this proposal the other day over at Daily Nous (which just got a nod from the Daily Nous editor Justin Weinberg here) for an alternative to the PGR and other rankings: a 21st century tool that students could use to get information on graduate programs.
The APA has been collecting data from philosophy PhD programs for a few years now for its Guide to Programs on placement rates, etc. What if more information were collected, such as numbers of books published with university presses, faculty citation and Google Scholar analytics, peer-reviewed conference papers, faculty areas of specialization, etc? And then what if that information were turned into a search engine such that a prospective graduate student (or anyone) could go there and search by key words for programs that offered what she or he was wanting to study? Programs that were more research productive (with faculty being cited more) would show up higher on the list than those that weren’t. So the student could create a customized ranking of programs that would meet his or her interests. Anyone could use that data to generate rankings of any particular specialty.
Citations, publications, etc. are a better measure than perceived reputation. Not only are they more objective, they factor in the careful scrutiny that goes into the peer-review process—as opposed to top-of-the-head perceptions of faculty lists by those that may be unfamiliar with those faculty members’ work.
Here’s a link to the current guide. Much more data will be needed but at least there is a starting point and a process already in place. I welcome ideas for a proposal to send to the APA.