Science 9 December 2011:
Vol. 334 no. 6061 pp. 1344-1345
News Focus

Saudi Universities Offer Cash in Exchange for Academic Prestige

Yudhijit Bhattacharjee | 129 Comments

Two Saudi institutions are aggressively acquiring the affiliations of overseas scientists with an eye to gaining visibility in research journals.

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These postings do not necessarily represent the views/opinions of Science.

You cannot blame the Saudi universities from gaming the system. Nor can you blame scholars from cashing in on their fame. The problem lies with ranking systems that are based on affiliations in name only, and do not consider where the research was conducted, or by whom.

About the questionable increase in productivity of local researchers, the problem is a system whereby a a paper (or a citation) counts as ONE paper (or citation) for every author, whether the paper has one or 50 authors.

I have previously suggested the benefits of dividing papers (and citations) by the number of authors, so that each author get his/her fair share of credit, and ONLY his/her fair share. Evidently, this correction credit ought to also be carried out at the institutional level.

Correcting for multiple authors and multiple affiliations might make it more difficult to game the ranking systems.

Submitted on Mon, 12/07/2015 - 12:13

Mr Al-Qunnaibet did not write an article. What he wrote was a long un-professional sensational write-up in which he twisted every single fact the e-mail Mr Norman sent to him, the Commentary of Science of 2nd March and the original article of December 9 for a single purpose: attack KSU for personal reasons. Furthermore, Mr Al Qunaibet write-up lacked the minimum ethical expectations and used excessive slandering words against KSU and its leadership. Mr Al Qunaibet bet (wrongly I should say) on the fact that many readers are not versed in English and he assumed readers will not expand the scanned e-mail or go back to the Commentary of 3 March. Furthermore, Al-Quinabet translated only part of the e-mail from Mr Norman to serve his intention. The only true fact that Al Qunaibet used is that Science did not apologize, which nobody expected any way, except some local journalists. The official KSU newspaper never mentioned that Sciences APOLOGIZED. In his write-up, Mr Al Qunaibet insisted that the three Sciences documents EXPLICITLY accused KSU that it “purchased research”. This is indeed a lie and twisting of facts. The fact is that the e-mail of Mr Norman, the Commentary of Science of 2nd March and the original article of December 9 never used the word “purchased” as Mr Al Qunaibet kept wrongly qouating from the three documents.

Submitted on Tue, 04/17/2012 - 15:19

Dear Norman, One of the Saudi Writer (Mr. Alqunaibit) used your responses to his three questions regarding King Saud University through a private email in a public article..

Does he have the right to publish your responses publicly?

thank you ALI- KSU

Submitted on Tue, 03/27/2012 - 13:24

Yes, Dr. Al Qunaibet informed me that he would use my responses to his questions in an article he was writing.

Submitted on Tue, 03/27/2012 - 14:36

An e-mail letter from the Science News Editor is published at the following newspaper in Saudi Arabia. ( As a close follower to this issue for more than three months, I thought of sharing some of the issues raised by the Science News Editor (SNE)in his e-mail First. SNE says “Science did not apologize to KSU…”. KSU official response never mentioned that Science apologized. The official site at KSU says “ Science confirmed the meaningful research collaboration at KS” . ( ). Note that the title the KSU used is almost identical to the title Science used for the letter of Dr Becker in its Commentary on 2 March. Second. SNE says “Science has not taken a stand regarding KSU's research ethics …”. Great, but this is also not true. The original article of Science went well beyond the normally balanced Science News Focus reporting into a biased advocacy of the views of a one person (Dr Al-Qunaibet) known for his spite vis-à-vis KSU. Needles to say that Mr Al-Qunaibet published and abused the private e-mail letter on the Saudi media. Third. The SNE says “… the article was careful not to imply that all international collaborations with Saudi universities should be regarded in a negative ..”. The truth is that the title of the original article is sensational and said “Saudi Universities Offer Cash in Exchange for Academic Prestige”. The article damaged the reputation of all Saudi Universities. Fourth. The SNE says “There is no " three month waiting period.". However, all your Commentaries indicate in a green box “Letters (~300 words) discus material published in Science over the last months …” indeed requires you in reality to wait three months. You cannot give your readers three months to respond and not to wait for the same period. Fifth. The NSE says “." Since none of the letters we published directly contradicted our story, and Dr. Miley's letter provided support for it, we decided a response was not required.”. Again this is not correct. The letter of KAU in the last paragraph rejected the whole premise and challenged your original article. Also the letter of Dr Becker in the last sentence of the first paragraph rejected Sconce’s motivation and conclusions of the first article.

With the above, I followed the principle that Mr Norman is using "Our role as journalists is to present the facts as fairly as we can” and let the readers take his/her stand.

Submitted on Mon, 03/26/2012 - 12:21

Shaping scientific research in Saudi universities

This refers to Y. Bhattachajee’s article on Saudi universities (Science Dec. 9, 2011). Appointment of Visiting Professors against payment is not something new and strange. Universities do hire experts from outside to ensure success in their new ventures, at least for as long as they may develop their own manpower with required skill. The common practice of appointing “Adjunct Professors” or engaging the “Guest Faculty” or “Resource Persons”, against a wide range of payment, to steer the teaching, training and research programs, falls in the same line. International collaborations between governments and bilateral agreements at institutional level for exchange of knowledge and materials are also examples of seeking external assistance, which often does not come gratis.

Since Islam lays utmost emphasis on learning and acquiring knowledge, early Muslims excelled in science and technology and dominated the academic world for centuries. Their debacle began after the 12th century AD, when somehow they chose to bifurcate knowledge into “religious” and “worldly” categories, and gradually distanced themselves from scientific pursuit and rational thinking. Now the Arab world is realizing again the significance of knowledge and trying to get rid of its age-old slumber of ignorance and the self-supposed superiority complex. Saudi Arabia has come up with ambitious plan for promoting science in the kingdom. The upcoming King Abdullah University of Science & Technology at Thuwal has tremendous potential to become a first-grade global centre of advanced scientific activity. The KSU in Riyadh is also poised at becoming a world-class research center in basic and applied sciences by improving its research output and gaining visibility in publication. Commencement of collaborative research schemes, including Visiting Professorship, for achieving the above goal, therefore deserves appreciation rather than criticism.

MUHAMMAD IQBAL Professor of Botany, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi, INDIA

Submitted on Fri, 03/09/2012 - 10:19

Yet another way for men to gain, and women to ... what, cook?

It's quite unsettling that no mention is made, here or anywhere else, of the blatant and extreme sexism of the Middle East, and our economic participation in it.

Submitted on Fri, 03/02/2012 - 14:00

Has every faculty member in Saudi Arabia been asked to comment on this article? (And will it qualify as a paper on their C.V...). Saudi institutions are famously vanity projects for bored royal family members. No amount of association with Western academics will erase firsthand reports from those who have tried 'working' there. Too bad that some Western academics sully their names by association. Academic poaching is normal in the West but labs actually produce - that's rather essential!

Submitted on Thu, 02/09/2012 - 12:19

Academic Prestige in Clinical Research

I read with interest the letter of Yudhijit Bahattacharjee (Science, 334:1344 - 1345) entitled "Saudi Universities Offer Cash in Exchange for Academic Prestige". As I approached the end, it was unsettling that the author completely ignored clinical research. Academic research has two major components: clinical and basic science. Several members of King Saud University staff gained academic prestige through their own clinical research (without any outside collaboration). In the College of Medicine for example, there are many Arab professors (Saudi and non-Saudi) who have earned international recognition and prestige in clinical research. I am only one example. I am a Saudi Hand Surgeon at King Saud University, in which I have been practicing for about two decades. I have almost 300 papers published throughout the years. Biomed Experts website ( lists the top 30 researchers in almost every field of medicine. Hand Surgery research includes many fields such as: obstetric paralysis (I came in first place), brachial plexus neuropathies (I came in second place), finger injuries (I came in second place), congenital hand deformities (I came in sixth place), and hand injuries (I came in eighth place).

I strongly believe that readers of "Science" have the right to know that several members of the academic staff of King Saud University have earned "academic prestige" through their own clinical research over the last two decades.

Prof. Mohammad M. Al-Qattan Head of Division of Plastic and Hand Surgery, and Director of College of Medicine Research center, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Submitted on Tue, 01/24/2012 - 13:12

King Saud University an oasis in the desert: the importance of internationalization and creation of the visiting professors programme

N.C. Bennett1,2 & A. Al-Agaili2

1 University of Pretoria and 2 King Saud University The recent article published in Science 344: 1344-1345 entitled “Saudi Universities offer cash in exchange for academic prestige” is a particularly one sided view of some exciting new research programmes created to encourage scientific internationalization and the cooperation with leading scientists around the world. I would like to shed light on the value that I see of the visiting professor programme (VPP) that has been conceptualised by Professor Abdullah Al Othman and his colleagues at the King Saud University in Riyadh.

I received an e-mail from a faculty member at the King Saud University (KSU) College of Science a few years ago asking me if I would like to become the Chair Professor of the KSU Mammals Chair in Riyadh, having been selected based on my reputation and recognition in the field of Mammalogy. I reluctantly had to decline, but explained to my now colleague and research collaborator that I would very much like collaborate in the future, despite not being able to take up the offer. Several months later I received an e-mail from the faculty member informing me of the VPP for collaboration. This programme provided an ideal opportunity to conduct research on mammals in Saudi Arabia and also to collaborate with a Saudi scientist.

Since taking up the visiting professorship in 2010, my co-author and I have managed to bring together a number of research scientists from South Africa and the United Kingdom to collaborate and undertake exciting research ventures on the poorly studied fauna of Saudi Arabia. The VPP at KSU is a superb foresight to increase knowledge transfer. We have benefitted immensely from the programme all of which is academic. The VPP has enabled student exchange, new collaborative ventures with colleagues outside Saudi Arabia (who do not receive cash for academic exchange) and twinning of our research chairs. The programme has enabled funding opportunities from large grants that can be applied for on a competitive basis from the government National Programme.

Internationalisation is the way to go and the VPP is a fine illustration of how to achieve such success. All parties gain from the scheme and the research profile of the KSU is raised.

Submitted on Tue, 01/24/2012 - 04:31

The title of the article is itself tendentious and misleading. The phrase “offer cash” implies an underhand process akin to bribery by western, and probably, by Indian standards. Although this phrase may reflect an unfortunate attempt to provide a literal translation of a common Arabic phrase used in relation to a wide range of financial relationships, a more appropriate translation would be “direct financial support”.

Submitted on Thu, 01/19/2012 - 15:03

I'm just curious about this, how many top ranked women scientists were offed this deal? how many top ranked Israeli scientists? Will Saudi institutions consider Prof. Dan Shechtman for the job? his pioneering work was cited only 3,261 times according to ISI... or maybe Prof Elizabeth Blackburn? or Prof. Ada Yonath? just asking...

Submitted on Thu, 01/12/2012 - 01:53

It seems to me that the article went beyond a normally balanced Science News Focus reporting into a biased advocacy of the views of a one person (Professor Al-Qunaibet) known for his spite vis-à-vis KSU.

The article indicates an unjust accusation that KSU leadership harbored a well-crafted and deceiving plan to improve the university international ranking and visibility through deceitful means (offering cash to buy affiliations of renowned international highly cited scientists). Furthermore, the article accused the leadership of KSU of using two of its internationalization programs (the VPP and DSFP) to implement the illusory plan. The article expressed this allegation in 9 consecutive paragraphs in the middle of the article.

As a staff at KSU, I am in a position to categorically reject this unsubstantiated accusation. To disprove this unfounded accusation, I like to refer Science and its readers to the KSU published, detailed and ambitious Strategic Plan 2010-2030 (most of it available on KSU website). The voluminous document (282 pages) does not indicate anywhere that international ranking is an objective for KSU. Currently, KSU is rigorously implementing its strategic plan and its progressive initiatives.

My humble opinion is that the improvement in KSU international ranking/visibility came as a result/byproduct of careful planning, intensive investment in people, hard work and bringing best international minds and talents to campus; all under a progressive and caring leadership.

From KSU Strategic Plan, it is evident that international collaboration is an essential component of the university globalization drive for the next two decades. This drive is based on extensive benchmarking with reference to the top five universities in the US. In a number of places, the document indicates that KSU internationalization programs aim at transferring know-how, accelerating development and meeting its fast growing demand for world-class researchers. Needless to say, this is a common practice in almost all reputable universities around the world.

Submitted on Wed, 01/11/2012 - 06:20

This article is shallow it lacks proper consultations: US led 2011 world R&D funding, with $405.3 bn, 33% of global R&D spending. But the US increased R&D spending less than rising nations, like China, Korea & Brazil. These countries are competing by increasing R&D funding & global collaborations to increase research outcomes. They aimed at buying time & getting speedier results. South Korea is the fastest growing developed countries it moved from poverty to #14th economy worldwide within 30 years, how? It did not reinvent the wheel! Instead it transferred knowledge from the US, using scientific collaboration. With over 8000 Patents; Korea is in 4th place worldwide. China is the 2nd largest nation in terms of R&D spending & has the 2nd largest economy worldwide. China is getting speeder results, it has been increasing its R&D spending 10% per year even during the 2008/9 recession. The continued expansion of R&D in China is both inspiring in magnitude & worrisome from a US competitive perspective. Top Chinese Universities reward faculty up to 2 months salary for publishing in ISI & up to 1 year salary for publishing in Nature & Science. At first China was criticized for the significant increase on publication, but now it is conducting innovative research. Islam is built on learning & acquiring knowledge; Muslim scholars excelled in science & allied disciplines & dominated the world for over 6 centuries. By thinking globally & acting locally, KSA is aiming at being a leader again in science & education. KSA will not reinvent the wheel either! As Dr Robertson said "they have the capital & they want to build something out of it" KSA took steps in the past few years to develop its HE sector: increased # of public Universities from 7 in 2004 to 25 in 2011, established 9 private Universities, 76 Community Colleges, & increased HE coverage from 15 to 76 counties. To transfer its economy into Knowledge-based economy according to KSA's 9th development plan (2010-2014), KSA: increased HE funding to $54 bn from $27.4 bn in the 8th Plan; approved its National Plan for Science & Technology to support R&D with $ 2.3 bn in 2011. To convert research results into industrial applications KSA established Science Parks, R&D Centers, Tech Incubators & Nanotechnology Institutes at Campuses, bringing the # of high tech labs to 1167 in 2011. Conclusion: Let's give Saudis who carry a wise head on young shoulder like KSU rector Dr Al-Othman a chance to develop KSA!

Submitted on Sat, 01/07/2012 - 08:03

The recruitment of Highly Cited researchers from around the world is not by itself a bad thing; I would say on the contrary it is smart thing to do. Indeed, when US or European universities have the funds, they too work hard to recruit world-class faculty (or those who have the potential to become world-class faculty). But if, as the article alleges, names of faculty at KAU and KSA are just being added to papers to which they made no contributions (or other such similar practices) this obviously is unethical and would tantamount to all researchers involved in that group compromising their integrity. Besides, such band-aid measures will do nothing to improve education or research at the Saudi universities, so I don't know why the Saudis would want to spend money to get nothing but recognition that is meaningless and hollow. Instead, they could be using the funds to make genuine gains in the quality of education and research at their universities (and I hope this is indeed taking place at least with some fraction of the money that is being spent on these programs).

Submitted on Tue, 01/03/2012 - 12:50

same situation at many Saudi institutes, like king Faisal specialist hospital where they invite journal editor in chiefs and visiting scientist who does the work for them and they claim victory

Submitted on Mon, 12/26/2011 - 11:10

Why did u include KFUPM in your article ? You had nothing against them other than they jumped in ranks. Is that enough to accuse an institution of " offering cash in exchange for academic prestige " ??? I'm really disappointed.

Submitted on Tue, 12/20/2011 - 10:49

Dear Editor

The report published in Science on the topic entitled " Saudi Universities offer cash in exchange for academic prestige' is indeed based on false grounds far away from truth, ignoring the ground reality that KSU is emerging as a power center for Higher Education and Research under the able leadership of Prof. Abdullah Al-Othman and Prof. Ali Al-Ghamdi, and their dedicated team of administrators. Being associated with KSU as a Chair Professor (on deputation from AMU, India), I have carefully assessed the priorities and mission of the KSU. I can say with full commitment and confidence that my research group has published around 25 research articles in ISI-indexed journals, a couple of books and book chapters,a patent published, and 2 extra-mural NPST grants evaluated by AAAS (USA)in the last 3 years utilizing the KSU internal facilities without any external support. In the last three years, I have seen a sea change in the attitude of KSU authorities, with a very positive outlook and unbiased open-for-all approach for developing science with all sincerity. In this globally competitive world, nobody can deny the fact that the education has been commercialized. You hardly find any subject exert working for charity in spite of the fact that teaching is a noble profession. Every institution, whether it is in USA or Europe or any other developed or developing countries aspires for achieving excellence, and invests in developing the intellectual potential. So does the KSU, which is a knowledge sharing university aspiring to grow as World class university by 2030. What is wrong in it? Does KSU have no right to grow and fulfill the aspirations of the people of the Kingdom and the community around the globe? If KSU has contributed for the advancement of science and achieved substantially during a short time span, it is because of vision of its present management and faculty staff. Heavens are not going to fall, if KSU develops into a World Class University. Mr. Editor, I am extremely saddened to see such a negative report against a growing institution, which I personally feel is an unfinished attempt to tarnish the image of this top ranking university in the Arab World. I suggest the fellow colleagues to keep restrain and focus on their own development rather than criticizing others in their struggle for achieving excellence.

Thanking You

Prof. Javed Musarrat Chair Professor Al-Jeraisy Chair for DNA Research Department of Zoology KSU, SA

Submitted on Tue, 12/20/2011 - 08:07

This is called research-in-luxury.

Submitted on Sun, 12/18/2011 - 09:19

The article has an unpleasant whiff of racism. It is disgraceful to treat KAU and King Saud University as an undifferentiated mass. The article is also unprofessional. There was apparently no attempt to contact the appropriate officers at KSU. Researchers associated with KSU were not interviewed, an easy task as two of them are Nobel laureates and one is on the editorial board of Science. Above all, it is pathetic that the author could find only two unqualified people to support his accusations about KSU. Professor Alhaidar has rejected the statements attributed to him. Terri Fishman is as qualified to condemn KSU as someone at Tabuk University would be to condemn Harvard. Professor Alqunaibet is known for his modest research record and malice towards those who do what they are paid to. Look him up in Web of Knowledge. The article’s references to international rankings show no sign of fact checking. KSU has more publications than the author says, its rise in Webometrics had nothing to with publications, the highly cited researchers made only a small contribution to the increase in publications, which in any case were not the only cause of the improvement in the Shanghai rankings. Why on earth is it wrong for an Arab university to seek collaborators? The Times Higher rankings count international collaboration as one of their criteria as do the Leiden rankings. A brief perusal of the KSU website would show that the international researchers are very active at KSU, perhaps more active than some long established Saudi researchers, which might be the root of the problem. The sneers at al Rasheid are extraordinary. The increase in his publications is only moderately ahead of the rest of KSU and there are KSU researchers more productive than he is. You should apologize to KSU.

Submitted on Sun, 12/18/2011 - 03:12

I am Mohammad Shamsul Ola, Assistant Professor at KSU. Almost three years back I have been hired from USA to establish the research lab at the Department of Ophthalmology to work on diabetic retinopathy. With the help and support from the university, we succeeded in establishing a well equipped lab which is very much functional now and we have already started publishing papers in good journals. I have great faith in the university administration for their sincere effort in bringing science here at KSU. Mr. Yudhijit Bhattacharjee is not fully aware of the facts what is going on here. It is well known fact that in USA, if you remove scientists who have been hired from India and China, most of the lab and science will be closed/collapsed. So what is the problem if US can hire people from India and China, why not Saudi Arabia can hire people from USA. I think Mr.Yudhijit writing is more political.

Submitted on Fri, 12/16/2011 - 14:35

At first, I totally disagree with what came on this article. This allegation is really on insult for both those scientists and King Saud University. Truth and realism of the current situation, King Saud University focused on scientific research through infrastructure, quality of education, quality of faculty members and visiting professor (as international system in most highly ranking universities in the world). And hence, the outcome of this effort is commendable ranking distinctive King Saud University and as a result of special management and good planning.

Submitted on Fri, 12/16/2011 - 14:30

"Every international univeristy with a desire to be a research hub will collaborate with distingushed researchers internationaly to gear up its research. Its a practice of most of the top ranked universities of the world. Targetting a specific university or person in this regard seems more like a political drive rather than a sincere effort".

Submitted on Fri, 12/16/2011 - 10:10

Subject: Dear Yudhijit Bhattacharjee why you chose to go USA; I don’t think you have done your master and PhD from USA University is better than IIT (ranking wise); Because Dollar price is more than an Indian rupee I myself Ghulam Mohammad am a assistant professor in KSU, I have join this university in 27 sept 2011,before joining here I was a post doc fellow in DMC (one of the top 10 medical centre in USA) and working with a world renounced scientist in my field. I have very good publications, why i chose Saudi Arabia because of two reasons: good money and easy to get good funding. KSU offers a good salary then USA to work here as well as easy to get grant. I did my PhD from Banaras Hindu University in India (1st rank university, in India, Times report 2010), Because of two reason I choose to go USA; money and a papers (I think most of the Indian researcher or foreigner in USA, go for this reason). I Think role of KSU here is to attract a young and well trained researchers to KSA by paying them a good amount of money and build the research sector. Good money paying more for established researchers seems reasonable. However a focus on the varied needs of the department should be a priority over stars quality, they are star’ and a good fit, this could be a very good use of resources, particularly if they are attracting students towards research. Easy to get grant; i think a guaranteed budged could be help full in several way; it would save time (years) for the faculty and review committees, people could initiate their research immediately (that’s what KSU doing what I fill in my case), it encourage new faculty and faculty with little previous research to begin their research. I totally disagree with Mr Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, comments, I think, the same principle what USA applying; how many foreigner researches in USA, I think more than a local, why they move to USA because of money and resources, so KSU applying the same principle.

Submitted on Fri, 12/16/2011 - 07:34

Yes, I spent some years in Saudi Arabia University , and what is written in science journal titled “ Saudi Universities Offer Cash in Exchange for Academic Prestige” it is not something new, that is the way how Saudi universities work, I was an academic staff in a university which was supposed to be one of the best universities in Saudi Arabia . Everybody try to start his job in the wrong way, corruption starts from the head of department to the dean to the rector, everybody want you to put his name on any paper you write without even know what is the paper about. I will give you an example that happened in the college I was working with. It is almost like a law every staff ( non Saudi )should almost write the name of the dean in his paper, in his research in his book and the strange thing that most of the staff put the dean's name , the deputy’s name first (Principal investigator????) and this was creating a competition between staff who write more papers for the dean, the deputy dean the head of department etc...everybody wants to be the top and the most closed to the dean and in such case his contract will be renewed with some more advantages ,salary increase, leading some administration responsibilities etc….As a conclusion there is no research no papers and no no no Professors in saudi , almost all Saudi Professors are promoting to such grade just because they stress on foreigners ( academic staff ) to write papers for them without even try to make a honor contribution say typing the paper .

Alberto Pricsaly,

Submitted on Fri, 12/16/2011 - 02:53

if this is the case then why you have not written to those journals which you have publish with Saudi people to remove the name of that authors, for me it seems like “Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.”

Submitted on Fri, 12/16/2011 - 09:31

I can assure you that the following benefits have gained from having international collaborates: 1- Our research quality has improved, now instead of publishing in local middle east journal, we (KAU)are publishing in international Peer Reviewed Journals. 2- Knowledge of our Msc and Phd students are improving and some of them now are doing international publication. 3- We are planning to have now very fresh promising Saudi Scientists and improve their science through the interaction directly with the international KAU scientists. 4- Please wait for Saudi Arabia after 5 years.


Submitted on Fri, 12/16/2011 - 02:18

The reporter stated that he was calling AL-RASHEID at his lab at close to midnight in Saudi Arabia, he answered that "he simply been working hard, “and it's still early for me”: seems as an answer of a devoted scientist working in his lab that late at night! Unusual for Arabs on western standards. I googled "KHALED AL-RASHEID" and this guy must be really talented to be able to work and co-publish with all those American, European, African and Asian scientists many years before the Saudi/KSU financial boost of 2008 as the reporter claimed. Science forgot that money cannot attract a wealthy Max-Planks Noblest to co-author AL-RASHEID without real scientific involvements and contributions. So, the Noblest and all those co-scientists are bad and Science reporter is correct??? I believe AL-RASHEID can sue the reporter and Science, I will send him this comment by e.mail incase Science do not post it.

Submitted on Thu, 12/15/2011 - 20:38

Every 5-6 years all UK chemistry (both also many other, like physic, biology) departments have been ranked for research levels of the staff (on a scale of 1- 4); major funding for the next 5 years to the Department, coming from the Government, was based on that ranking. This is the RAE (Research Assessment Exercise; last time performed 2008). See:

The next evaluation in the UK will be done in 2014 (countrywide); details are on the website: and

To reach higher levels in this HEF ranking, many UK Chemistry Departments are hiring staff (before the census date) from elsewhere to improve their ranking. So the staff under contract, whether they had been there all their career, or hired just 2 days before the transfer date, will count with their full past performance!

Census date means the date determining the affiliation of research-active staff to a particular institution. Staff may be submitted in the evaluation by the institution that employs them on this data, regardless of previous or forthcoming changes in their employment status. The announced census date for the UK is October 31 2013.

So, Saudi Univ. doing not so much different from KSU practice!

Submitted on Thu, 12/15/2011 - 19:13

As you sow so you reap King Saud University has taken two main approaches to elevate the level of University: 1. By hiring foreign tranined faculties/scientists to establish research within campus and collaborating with scientists around the world. This process is of course genuine but relatively slow in producing good quality research and papers. Good scientists understand and appreciate this approach but university administration wants faster results. For this reason, approach 2. They started short cut way to affiliate ISIhighlycited scientists by paying them some gift money/honor, so that number of publications can be increased and thereby University ranking can be elevated sooner, which seems to be silly. It is a problem in the administrative approach, may be because of lack of understanding of scientific ethics and knowledge or may be the present administration think that after 4-5 years, there will be another administration, so they dont have time to wait for the result based on the first approach. They have to bring the university to the highest rank by hook or crook within their tenure. But honestly university first approach is working fine and scientist/researchers have started producing but it would take time for the visibility, research does not work like a factory. This is what University will have to understand. It would be better if they utilize energy in working towards strengthing/establishing/facilitating own research " As you sow so you reap".

Submitted on Thu, 12/15/2011 - 16:54