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Friday, January 20, 2017

A scandal in the scientific world: scientific cheat yourself citation index

In Russia created a precedent: for the first time dismissed from the Institute employee who artificially “cheat” his citation index to raise the scientific status. The fraudulent scheme was disclosed in the Institute of theoretical and experimental Biophysics RAS (ITEB). For the company dismissed the doctor of Sciences Sergey Gudkov, who headed the Council of young scientists, also dismissed the scientific Secretary of the Institute.

Both “distinguished” by the fact that inserted in postgraduates ‘ work links to your articles. And of place and out of place. For example, in the publication on manure processing could easily see a link to an article about… purulent peritonitis.

Details of the scandal, “MK” has found out from chief scientific officer ITEB, doctor of biological Sciences, expert of VAK (Higher attestation Commission) Elena KOSENKO.

photo: Alex geldings

“You’re a weak scientist, if you have low citation” — this postulate in the past three years, inspire scientists of all Russian institutions. This year, the departmental Commission FANO (Federal Agency of scientific organizations) begun to assess the performance of scientific activities, primarily taking into consideration the publication and citation index.

Good numbers automatically raise researchers above the rest: to them increases the likelihood of receiving a grant or at least a prize at the end of the year. The way in which scientists provide the desired score, alas, for some reason, no one checks. Scientists, academicians repeatedly stated about the danger of blind scientometrics, about the possibility of fiddling with the figures in the ornate computer systems. But no one prior to the event in ITEB did not conduct an investigation and did not lead evidence.

Somehow in the press (it was three years ago) biologists caught a note in which was said about the scientific articles by their colleagues Gudkov, who “recommended reading for all professionals NASA.

— We are very surprised, — says Elena Kosenko. — Foreigners, of course, referred to the article of our colleagues Gudkov, but anything connected with the cosmos he doesn’t have: it deals with fundamental issues in the field of terrestrial Biophysics and biochemistry. When we opened the Russian scientific database, then found out that hooters in addition to working full-time at our institution is registered in two organizations: the Moscow General physics Institute. Prokhorov RAS and Nizhny Novgorod state University. Lobachevsky. In our Institute, which is his main place of work, he had a slight indicators: the Hirsch index (a measure of scientific popularity articles) was equal to 2. This corresponded to 11 publications, made over all the time, and 34 real links to his articles. The most notable of his results are with the General physics Institute. Prokhorov Russian Academy of Sciences. As an employee of IOF ran, it turns out he had over 2 years to 58 write articles, collect 877 citations and eventually to index 17.

Sergey Gudkov.

— How high the index?

— Quite high. Compare for yourself: the maximum for our Institute is the h — index of 24. Not every academician or the corresponding member of the RAS can boast such an indicator.

— How did you discovered the falsification of citation?

— This happened after Gudkov headed the Council of young scientists at the Institute, was the organizer of international conferences that are periodically held here. According to the materials of these conferences prepared the collection, which publishes short reports of young scientists on the work done in the thesis, where-that on half a page. They don’t fall into any database and scientometric indicators Rapporteur does not grow after that. Hooters, being the Chairman of SMU, on behalf of the organizing Committee sent out the young participants of the conference of the so-called letters in which it was said that SMU has decided to publish more extended proceedings of the conference in the form of articles. In this form of the work is already fall in the Russian database, “picked up” RSCI (Russian science citation index) and pay dividends to a young worker. But for this “service” in the promotion section in the organizing Committee reserved the right to “improve” the article by correcting spelling errors and adding references.

— In what magazine published these articles?

— In two issues of “Actual problems of humanitarian and natural Sciences” (2013 and 2014). This magazine has no access to the international database. But even the possibility of falling in the Russian base was a very good incentive for graduate students. Even sewn links of our employees have been discovered in the journal “Current biotechnology”, 2014, №3 (10), which was also published materials of the conference.

— And the students were aware of which links will be inserted into their work?

— It was not. Only advanced the heads of some young scientists, for a long time digging, found, for example, that in an article about recycling of manure were pasted link about the role of quercetin in reducing the concentration of hydrogen peroxide in water. In other words, link had no relation to the topics of articles, to which they were attached.

— Tell us about the role of academic Secretary in this scheme.

— Aleksandr Vladimirovich Kulikov did the same thing and beeps, and also not worried about the thematic connection between scientific work and references therein. For example, in the article about processing berries could be a reference to a work dedicated to the fight against diabetes… in addition to the above-described method, he did not disdain even share the same last name in your citation list. RISC usually automatically brings in the “piggy Bank” the academic scores do not distinguish it from the full namesakes, — it is an imperfect system. How would this scientist is obliged to “clean up” the list of his publications from the works of namesakes. But Kulikov has not been cleaned, with the result that instead of 30 actual citations in its database were about a thousand (!) quotes and articles 150-160. These data, he did not hesitate to send in reports on the work done in FANO and the WAC.

— Why Kulikov was not fired, as Gudkov?

“I don’t know, while he only wrote a letter of resignation from the post of academic Secretary.

Among other things these guys were still violated the copyright of young scientists. In the body of the article they inserted the sentence: “Despite the progress made in science, this work requires additional research” — and then in brackets put the link: “(1-30)”. These were the instructions on their stuffing. Moreover, they changed the numbering and references of the author. For example, in the article there were only four references, and scientists to add their own, several times to expand the list.

— Really, except for dismissal and removal from office, these figures are no longer in danger?

— Neither in the Criminal nor in the Administrative code of the Russian Federation there is no article which could attract them to more serious responsibility. Their behavior is governed only by the laws of ethics. But it is in our time, alas, not too appreciated. You’d be surprised, but after everything that happened, Gudkov continues to get money personal grant, issued to him one of the funds. Monthly fired for “dripping” the sum several times exceeding the average salary of doctor of science.

Review the Deputy Director of ITEB RAS, D. SC.N., Professor Eugene MAEVSKY:

— After coupled the JINR Directorate, the scientific Council with a new Council of young scientists have developed a code of Ethics of employees of the Institute. It will be included in the collective agreement and employment contracts each employee will be the internal regulatory document binding.

Our analysis of the situation showed that she, unfortunately, is not unique, and has a nationwide distribution. The reason is first of all installed instances of the parent administering the pernicious system of assessment of scientific results: the almost complete substitution of the examination of the quality, breakthrough and national economic significance of studies on Cimmeria. Scientometric evaluation adopted to assess the performance of ministries, funds — distributors of grants and Finance, expert advice, up to the HAC and competition commissions. This substitution under the flag of objectivity opened the gate for the unjust career growth is not only unfair to the workers — it puts into the Procrustean bed of zimmerei the entire scientific community, undermining the ability to conduct high-quality, sometimes years of research.

The conclusion is simple: it requires drastic measures on a national scale for the departure from the purely formal to the real quality assessment of research activities.

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