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Saudi Universities Offer Cash in Exchange for Academic Prestige

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Science  09 Dec 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6061, pp. 1344-1345
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6061.1344

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More than 60 top-ranked researchers from different scientific disciplines—all on the Institute for Scientific Information's (ISI's) highly cited list—have recently signed part-time employment arrangements with King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in which they agree to add KAU as a second affiliation to their names on ISI's list of highly cited researchers. Meanwhile, a bigger, more prominent Saudi institution—King Saud University in Riyadh—has climbed several hundred places in international rankings in the past 4 years largely through initiatives specifically targeted toward attaching KSU's name to research publications, regardless of whether the work involved any meaningful collaboration with KSU researchers. Academics both inside and outside Saudi Arabia warn that such practices could detract from the genuine efforts that Saudi Arabia's universities are making to transform themselves into world-class research centers.