Professor, former dean earns nearly 100 expressions of concern for citation manipulation

Yehia Massoud

A professor at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia who once served as a dean at the Stevens Institute of Technology in the United States, has received expressions of concern on 93 of his conference proceedings for what a publisher said were irrelevant self-citations and “artificially inflating the number of citations.”

The notes by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) on the work of Yehia Massoud, a professor of electrical and computer engineering,  take two forms. One reads:

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Professor in Jordan sues sleuth who exposed citation anomalies

Solal Pirelli

A PhD student in Switzerland who blogged about a series of dubious conferences linked to potential citation fraud is being sued by one of the conference chairs, a professor of computer science, Retraction Watch has learned.

The professor, Shadi Aljawarneh of the Jordan University of Science and Technology, reaped a prodigious number of citations from the conference proceedings, often in highly questionable ways.

“Fraud can pay off,” Solal Pirelli, a doctoral student at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, wrote on his blog in January. “Shadi Aljawarneh has 6082 citations and an h-index of 38 per Google Scholar, above many well-regarded researchers. This probably helped him sit on the editorial board of PeerJ Computer Science, alongside well-regarded researchers.”

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Journal asks scientist to step down from editorial board after sleuth’s comments linked him to paper mill

Masoud Afrand

An engineering researcher has stepped down from an editorial board at the request of a journal’s leadership following a sleuth’s comment on a Retraction Watch post linking him to paper mill activity. 

Masoud Afrand, an assistant professor of engineering at the Islamic Azad University in Iran, was, until recently, on the editorial board of the journal Engineering Analysis with Boundary Elements. He also was listed on the website of Scientific Reports as a member of the journal’s editorial board in the subject of mechanical engineering. 

He now has neither position. He has not responded to our requests for comment. 

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Publisher blacklists authors after preprint cites made-up studies

Henrik Enghoff

Last month, a millipede expert in Denmark received an email notifying him that one of his publications had been mentioned in a new manuscript on Preprints.org. But when the researcher, Henrik Enghoff, downloaded the paper, he learned that it cited his work for something off-topic.

Stranger still, the authors of the now-withdrawn preprint, a group of researchers in China and Africa, also referenced two papers by Enghoff that he knew he hadn’t written. It turned out they didn’t exist.

“I’ve never had anything like this happen before,” Enghoff, a professor at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, in Copenhagen, told Retraction Watch.

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“Truly devastating”: Four journals won’t get new Impact Factors this year because of citation shenanigans

Clarivate, the company that assigns journals Impact Factors, this year will not give four journals updated versions of the controversial metric used by many institutions and publications as a shorthand for quality. 

The journals will remain indexed in Web of Science, but won’t have an Impact Factor for this year in Clarivate’s 2023 Journal Citation Reports. 

According to Clarivate, Marketing Theory, a SAGE title, has been suppressed for self-citation. Three other journals have been suppressed for citation stacking, sometimes referred to as “citation cartels” or “citation rings.” The other journals are as follows: 

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Did a ‘nasty’ publishing scheme help an Indian dental school win high rankings?

Saveetha Dental College

Each year, the 500 undergraduates at Saveetha Dental College in Chennai, India, participate in 4-hour exams that require them to write a 1500-word manuscript on research they have conducted. After faculty and students review and revise the papers, they use an online tool to add references to previously published work. Many of the papers are then submitted to and published by journals; the process contributed to the more than 1400 scholarly works the dental school published last year.

Saveetha, which calls itself a “pioneer in undergraduate publications,” says the exercise is designed to help every student gain practical research experience—as well as at least 10 publications listed in Scopus, the vast literature database maintained by the publisher Elsevier. The college’s website boasts that one Saveetha student published 24 papers.

But the torrent of undergraduate manuscripts—on topics including fruit intake by students and awareness of mental health among teenagers—also appears to serve a less savory purpose, an investigation by Retraction Watch has found. By systematically citing other papers published by Saveetha faculty—including papers on completely unrelated topics—the undergraduate publications have helped dramatically inflate the number of citations, a key measure of academic merit, linked to Saveetha.

Read the rest of this Science-Retraction Watch story here.

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How citation cartels give ‘strategic scholars’ an advantage: A simple model

Richard Phelps

Sincere scholars work to expand society’s knowledge and understanding. They cite all the relevant research, even that produced by those they disagree with or personally dislike. They encourage debate. For the sincere scholar, a citation is a responsibility, and proper and thorough citations demonstrate research quality.

For the strategic scholar, a citation is an asset to be used career-advantageously. As a certain former governor of the State of Illinois once said about his responsibility to fill an open US senate position, “I’ve got this thing and it’s (expletive) golden. I’m not just giving it up for (expletive) nothing.”

Strategic scholars cite the work of their friends, working colleagues, those they agree with, and those who reference them. Indeed, the most successful career-strategic scholars operate in groups of like-minded colleagues in which they promote each other’s careers together—citation cartels. They draw attention to that other work which supports their own and their careers. 

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How critics say a computer scientist in Spain artificially boosted his Google Scholar metrics

Juan Corchado

Want a higher h-index? Here’s a way – but be warned, it’s a method that will raise some eyebrows.

Take the example of Juan Manuel Corchado, a computer scientist at the University of Salamanca in Spain. He has the 145th-highest h-index in the country. But many of the nearly 39,000 citations are by him to his own work.

This conference abstract, about the Internet of things and blockchain for smart cities, for instance, cites 44 references to Corchado’s own papers out of a total of 322 references. While this conference abstract, presented to a conference about artificial intelligence in educational technology in Wuhan, China, in July 2021, contains the exact same references as the one about blockchain for smart cities.

Other examples of short conference abstracts by Corchado listing dozens of citations to his own previous papers also exist. 

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Researchers sound alarm on ‘predatory’ rankings

Hey, researchers and universities, want to be included in a new ranking scheme? No problem, just pony up some cash. 

Tanvir Ahmed, a postdoc at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, says this year has seen a rise in news stories— for example from Bangladesh, Kashmir, and Nigeria —  reporting so-called predatory rankings. These come to light due to the lack of knowledge about rankings at universities and the media in certain countries, he says. 

Ahmed is referring to AD Scientific Index, which charges $30 USD for an individual researcher to be included in the ranking and an unspecified sum for institutions wishing to be ranked. 

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Company fires employee, ends cash for citation scheme following Retraction Watch post

A company that had offered payment for citations of articles in various journals has ended the practice, and fired the staffer it said was responsible, following reporting by Retraction Watch.

On August 31, we reported that Innoscience Innoscience Research, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was offering $6 per citation of papers in five different journals, and up to five cites, or $30, per paper, or $150 in total across all five journals. Since then, two journals have distanced themselves from the scheme.

Yesterday, Innoscience told us by email:

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