The International Research Network (IRN) is a measure of global engagement, and specifically on how institutions create and sustain research partnerships resulting in internationally co-authored publications with other institutions across borders to collaborate on solving the world's challenges and disseminate vital research to wider audiences.
The IRN adapts the Margalef Index, widely used in the environmental sciences, to estimate the richness of international research partners for a given institution. IRN Index reflects the ability of institutions to diversify the geography of their international research network by establishing repeated research partnerships with other higher education institutions. It also reflects the efficiency of this as we look at the diversity of partner locations against the efforts needed to achieve such a diversity. Specifically, the QS International Research Network (IRN) Index is calculated with the following formula:
IRN Index = L / ln(P), **
where In(P) is the natural logarithm of the distinct count of international partners (higher education institutions) and L is the distinct count of international countries/territories represented by them.
In QS World University Rankings, QS University Rankings by Region, as well as QS Rankings by Subject, this metric considers only sustained partnerships, which we define as those which result in 3 or more joint papers published in the corresponding broad or narrow subject in a five-year period.
In the QS Subject Rankings, we produce IRN Index for only those subjects with a decent volume of papers (those subjects with a paper threshold of more than 50 papers over the last 5 years).
The usual paper types and affiliation caps are applied.
1. We apply the above formula to the papers from each of the five-broad faculty areas (A&H, E&T, LSM, NS, & SS).
2. We take five raw values from step 1 and scale each of them using min-max normalization from 1-100.
3. We average (mean) those five scaled scores.
4. We apply Z-score normalization to the score from step 3 or (in case of narrow subjects) to a subject-level score.
5. We rescale the Z-score to arrive at the final score.
Steps 1-3 are applicable only to QS World University Rankings and QS University Rankings by Region.
Note on the QS World University Ranking 2023/2024 editions of this indicator:
When we transform an institution’s scores into Z-scores, we lock the mean and standard deviations that we use in our sample. We do this so that institutions do not receive score increases simply because we have added new institutions to a ranking year on year. When we add new institutions, their performance across indicators is typically rather low. Adding new institutions may move them closer or further away from the mean performance, and thus adjusting their rank position based on no underlying shifts in performance. For International Research Network, we set the sample size to the top 700 – as we do for Citations per Faculty. This also helps ensure a more equal distribution of scores across indicators- making it easier to compare, e.g., Citations per Faculty with International Research Network.
Last year we published this indicator unweighted, the intent being to give a rough estimation of how an institution would fare. We did not, however, apply our standard normalization procedures for that indicator. This year we have reconciled the normalization in line with our other indicators. Institutions may compare rank positions rather than scores for this indicator and for this edition. Further details on this approach here: https://support.qs.com/hc/en-gb/articles/4402503754130-Z-Score-
- 2016/2017 edition - Adopted for the first time in the QS Latin America Region Ranking.
- 2018 edition onwards - included in the remaining regional rankings (Asia, Arab, EECA)
- 2022 - Added to the broad faculty area rankings in our QS Subject rankings
- 2022 - IRN methodology used for 'Knowledge Exchange' lens in QS Sustainability Ranking
- 2023 - Added to some of the narrow subject area rankings in our QS Subject rankings
- 2023 - Added as a lens to the QS World University Rankings 2024