The International Research Network (IRN) was included for the first time in the 2016/17 edition of the QS University Rankings: Latin America, and has now been expanded to all the other regional rankings.
Since 2022, we have included IRN Index in the ranking of broad subject areas (Arts & Humanities, Engineering & Technology, Life Sciences & Medicine, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences & Management).
Also, IRN Index methodology is the ground of "Knowledge Exchange: Progress / Dissemination" metric of QS World University Rankings in Sustainability.
The Margalef Index, widely used in the environmental sciences, has been adapted to estimate the richness of the selected 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 sustainable 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 P is the distinct count of international partners (higher education institutions) and L is the distinct count international locations represented by them.
In QS World University Rankings and QS University Rankings by Region, this metric considers only sustained partnerships, i.e. those which result in 3 or more joint papers with non-zero citations (excluding self-citations) indexed by Scopus in a five-year period.
As in other cases when citations and papers are processed, IRN Index is normalized by our five faculty areas: it is calculated per each of them and then averaged to ensure that the influence of research publishing cultures is equalized across the different faculty areas. Also, only relevant paper types are considered and our usual affiliation cap is applied.