^ I don't believe the HEDS Consortium is a biased source. If you mean Reed College, they are simply reporting the HEDS results, as cited at the bottom of the web page. The results are data-driven. Granted, they make Reed look good, but so what?
I think the most important debate about using and interpreting the PhD production data has to do with how to normalize for school size and program composition. The LACs seem to perform very well in the per capita rankings, but is that truly because they do a better job of motivating and preparing students to succeed in graduate school? Or are the results skewed because tippy top universities tend to send more students to law, medical and business school? Or because some large univerities (like Penn) have engineering, nursing, and other pre-professional programs that might reduce the per capita PhD production.
Well, as I suggested, use such a list as a starting
point. But I do think that anyone who knows colleges well will recognize that many of the schools that do well by this measure (places like CalTech, MIT, Swarthmore, Reed, Chicago, Grinnell, Carleton) are something of a breed apart in terms of academic intensity. It's no coincidence, I think, that this top 10 overlaps significantly with the Huffington Post's "10 Most Intellectual Colleges" list. The 10 Most INTELLECTUAL Colleges (PHOTOS)