A university in Malaysia has instructed its engineering faculty to cite at least three papers by their colleagues; the more citations a university accrues, the better its ranking in many international surveys. We obtained the original notice, dated August 3 and released by the University of Malaya, and translated it via One Hour Translation. Our English version says:
All Academic StaffThe notice is signed by Professor Ir. Dr. Noor Azuan Abu Osman,
Faculty of Engineering
Key Performance Indicators (KPI) Confirmation for 2017
Please refer to the subject-matter stated above.
(1) “Citation: To cite at least 3 relevant papers of colleagues in each of your publication”
- As had been informed earlier, the
KPI Confirmation for all University of Malaya staff has been opened and
the final date for the KPI Confirmation is 9 August 2017.
- For the Academic Staff at the
Faculty of Engineering, the First Appraisal Officer (PPP) has determined
the KPI for each departmental staff (please refer to the KPI). Under
Section 6, Faculty Specific Duties you are required to type:
I would be pleased if you could take necessary action before 9 August 2017.
- Other additional tasks are subject to the PPP of each PYD.
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering. We contacted him to ask what
prompted the practice, and what penalties researchers will face if they
fail to cite three papers by their colleagues. We received a response
from a university spokesperson, who told us:
With reference to the issue of citations at the Faculty of Engineering, UM, it is common practice among academics at the Faculty concerned to cite the publications of academics(The original guidelines don’t appear to include the caveat that citations be related to the study.)
at the same Faculty or from other Faculties within the University
provided that the publications are relevant to the study conducted.
This is also practiced by academic staff in general at UM and other universities.
Academics are encouraged to acknowledge and cite fellow academics where Relevant.
Of course, this isn’t the only technique universities use to boost their metrics. Recently, we ran a story in Science about institutions (including many in Western countries) who pay faculty for publications; a 2011 report in Science showed
that universities in Saudi Arabia were giving tens of thousands of
dollars to highly cited researchers to take a secondary position there,
ensuring the institution gets listed on prominent papers.
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One way to boost your uni's ranking: Ask faculty to cite each other - Retraction Watch at Retraction Watch