TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Manipulating Citation Rankings

Inside Higher Ed, Manipulating Citation Rankings?:

Highly Cited 2The possession by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz University of more highly cited researchers than almost any other university in the world raises questions about institutions’ ability to manipulate global rankings.

This is the view of two researchers who last week posted on the arXiv preprint server a paper that ranks universities by the number of highly cited researchers who list them as affiliations. [Which of the World’s Institutions Employ the Most Highly Cited Researchers? An Evaluation of the Data From] ... They examined the addresses on papers written by the world’s most highly cited researchers between 2002 and 2012, as revealed by Thomson Reuters last month. ...

[T]he University of California system is listed as the primary affiliation of 179 highly cited researchers, followed by Harvard University with 106 and Stanford University with 56. However, some authors also list secondary academic affiliations. When ranked according to how many highly cited researchers list them as either a primary or a secondary affiliation, the University of California remains top, with 198, but King Abdulaziz University leaps from nowhere to second, with 163.

Noting that the Academic Ranking of World Universities, often known as the Shanghai Jiao Tong rankings, takes into account an institution’s proportion of highly cited researchers, the paper says that “the results for King Abdulaziz illustrate that university rankings can be manipulated.” ...

Saudi Arabia is the country with by far the highest proportion (82 percent) of highly cited researchers who list its institutions only as secondary overseas affiliations. The second highest is South Africa, with 45 percent. King Abdulaziz is listed as a secondary affiliation by 122 researchers, compared with 27 for the next most commonly listed institution, Harvard. ...

[S]ome Saudi Arabian universities, including King Abdulaziz, offer highly cited researchers lucrative adjunct professorships, with minimal requirements for them to be physically present, in return for being listed by them as a secondary affiliation. ... King Abdulaziz did not respond to a request for comment.

Legal Education | Permalink


Phil “Hide The Decline” Jones of Climategate infamy now uses the same Saudi university as his affiliation on his latest scientific papers:

Posted by: NikFromNYC | Jul 18, 2014 4:39:28 AM

But this is inherent in the whole ranking system. It's the equivalent of saying that Gilbert O'Sullivan is better than Beethoven because he sold more records. Where is Casey Kasem when you need him?

Posted by: michael livingston | Jul 18, 2014 5:12:11 AM