The Iranian-German scholar Hamid Reza Karimi had tremendous output when he was working at the University of Agder (UiA). In 2013 and 2014, he co-authored more than 100 research publications in international journals, according to today’s work. No one else has come close to the numbers that technology and a professor of mathematics can show.
Many suspected it was too good to be true.
He was investigated but acquitted
In 2016 and 2017, his work was examined by the National Commission for the Investigation of Research Misconduct (NCI). Among other things, there were suspicions that Karimi’s co-authorships were false, but also that the frequency of citations was manipulated. But Karimi was acquitted. He was criticized for not contributing to clarifying the matter, but he did not show scientific misconduct, according to the committee.
By then, he had ended his research career in Norway for a very different reason. He fired the PST for allegedly conducting industrial espionage for Chinese defence. Today he is a professor at Politecnico di Milano in Italy, according to the university’s website.
The publisher has flagged articles
But last year, the publisher IEEE scrutinized articles Karimi had published in their journals. And in November, they decided to tag or “tag” 12 of his articles, according to the database. Rollback control. The publisher believes it manipulated the number of times these articles were cited.
The 12 articles now begin with this format from the publisher:
“After a thorough review by an appropriately constituted panel, it was found that the author of this article, Hamidreza Karimi, had acted in violation of the IEEE Principles of Ethical Publishing by artificially increasing the number of citations for this article.”
Karimi wrote three of these articles while working at Agder University.
It removes more than fifty journals from the database, a total of 19 from the same publisher
Several ways to handle citations
The publisher would not explain to Khrono exactly what he believed Karimi had done in concrete terms, and Karimi himself did not respond to our inquiries.
There are several ways to handle the number of citations. You can get help from or cooperate with others through what are called citation clubs or citation cartels. Or one may cite one’s own articles too much, what is called excessive self-citation. This can happen, for example, by referring to your own article, but this article is actually completely unrelated to what you are writing about. One cites the intention of increasing citations for his article.
After considering the case, expert on the practice of citation Ole Bjørn Rekdal believes that in this case it has to do with the latter, i.e. excessive self-citation.
says Rekdal, who is professor emeritus at the Norwegian University of Applied Sciences.
The content of the 12 articles is not the problem. but after that Other articles pRepeat this without being necessary.
But why would someone inflate their citation rate?
– The number of citations is something we are measured by. Not being cited is a bit absurd for an academic. There are significant differences between different subjects as to how important these numbers are, but it is clearly noticed when something is cited more often. A high frequency of a quote usually means something that has an “impact” that has an impact and is significant, Rickdahl says.
Two of the articles Karimi published while working in Norway were cited about 300 to 400 times each. Between 10 and 15 percent of the citations are from articles written by Reza himself. It is unclear whether the articles, which according to the publisher contain redundant citations, were written while Reza was working at UiA. He resigned from his position as a professor at UiA in 2016.
The professor blamed the students for “dirty mistakes”. Now he is accused of scientific misconduct
The profile on Google Scholar has disappeared
In 2022, Karimi’s profile on Google Scholar has disappeared. But through the network tool Wayback Machine, you can see that his articles have been cited nearly 30,000 times, including just over 23,000 times since 2017.
“It’s amazingly high,” says Ole Bjorn Rekdal.
It was the so-called h-index of 95, which is also very high. The index is calculated based on the number of articles published and the number of times each article was published.
Rekdal says that very few researchers have so many publications that it would have any significant impact on your citation index if you cited yourself.
—but the special thing here is that he has such an insanely high output. You can actually use self-quoting to increase the number of times the h-pointer is repeated and quoted a bit.
She was criticized for not contributing
In 2015 and 2016, Dagens Næringsliv began writing about the production of “paranormal researcher” and “Norwegian publishing hero” Karimi. It contributed to the UiA asking the National Commission of Inquiry to look into the matter.
In their report in 2017, they concluded that Karimi had not acted fraudulently. But he criticized them for not wanting to contribute to the investigation himself. The report specifically considered whether Karimi had been given wrong authorship of the articles, but the panel wrote that it would not have been practicable to clarify this without Karimi’s own involvement. The committee concluded that, therefore, it did not follow the criterion of transparency about who contributes to the research.
But when it came to citations, the investigative committee found nothing to put its finger on. Among other things, there were suspicions of Karimi collaborating with Chinese researchers to increase the frequency of citations through so-called citation cartels. But they found no evidence that he engaged in any systematic collaboration to increase the number of citations. Experts noted that his articles were cited more frequently, about twice the average on the same topic. About 20 percent of his articles were among the most cited in the world within the researcher topic profile. The experts commented:[forskerens] A relatively good standing in the research literature, even without self-citations, is a sign that independent researchers in the same field consider the results he contributes to as useful.”
The audit committee did not scrutinize all the articles he produced at UiA, but made a selection.
– Very serious
How dangerous is inflated citations?
Looking at it in isolation is much less dangerous than what is called FFP, says citation expert Ole Bjørn Rekdal, i.e. fabrication, forgery and plagiarism. What Karimi is accused of falls under what is described as questionable research practice (QRP, or “Questionable Research Practice”).
– But when there is too much of it, the system rots. When there are so many citations that don’t stick, we lose respect for the source reference as an academic tool, and we stop looking for documentation and quality assurance for what satisfies us most. Then we have an enormous problem where the distinction between science on the one hand, and nonsense on the other, is blurred, says Reckdahl.
– And in this sense, what he is doing is very dangerous. Quotations from sources should be sacred, it is not something that should be thrown out in the wild to increase the frequency of one’s own or others’ quotes.
According to Rekdal, it is quite unique for a publisher to check citations and tag articles in this way. He himself knows only one similar case of regression.
– Everything indicates that they did a great job, it’s impressive. In my opinion, it is wonderful that such things are revealed, he says.
He does not believe that the Norwegian investigative committee should be blamed for not having detected citation fraud.
“Scrutinizing every nook and cranny of the life of someone who has written as far as it seems to me is an utterly insurmountable task,” he says.
This is what the rector says
Rector Sniva Whitaker of the University of Agder says in a written comment to Khrono:
As a university, we do not want to speculate about what happened without more information. It’s also important that publishers and editors are allowed to play their part when it comes to their own publications, and part of that is following citation practices.
At UiA, we rely on good scientific practices, and we need more than what is shown here to assess what happened.”
It seems, she adds, that the problem here is with the citations to Articles produced at UiA.
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