Saveetha Dental Higher education underneath scanner for inflating ranking: ‘Science’ report

A view of Saveetha Dental College, Chennai.

A check out of Saveetha Dental School, Chennai.

Saveetha Dental Higher education (SDC), Chennai, is first on the list of most-cited dentistry establishments in the planet, in the QS Environment University Rankings, and 1st-ranked in India’s Countrywide Institutional Ranking Framework for dental educational institutions.

But according to a new investigation by Science and Retraction Observe, SDC may have engaged in an unethical apply known as extraordinary self-citation to strengthen its citation rating, a common but fallible evaluate of study top quality, and propel alone to the best of these and other ranking techniques.

Severe self-quotation

When a person analysis paper invokes the findings of yet another paper, the latter is stated to have been cited by the previous. The much more citations a paper has, the far more its affect on the discipline is construed to be. A frequent way to ‘hack’ this procedure is to generously cite one’s own papers, even if they are not connected meaningfully to the paper at hand.

For case in point, Science and Retraction Look at documented that the introduction of a 2022 paper coauthored by SDC researchers incorporates an innocuous line – “Our workforce has a wider research knowledge and expertise that has been transformed into superior impression publications” – followed by 15 citations to other SDC papers.

SDC professor Sheeja Varghese informed Science, “We never want nearly anything to happen in an unethical way, that is our policy.” But an adjunct affiliate professor at SDC, Adith Venugopal, reported that the selection of self-citations “may be anything like a university seeking to cite by itself a lot more for getting some rankings or anything of that sort”.

Elsevier, Clarivate reply

As of 8.40 am on June 9, a web page on the internet site of the Saveetha Institute of Medical and Specialized Sciences, of which SDC is a section, proclaimed that SDC is “the optimum ranked Indian Institution in QS World University Rankings”.

Considering that the Science and Retraction Observe investigation began, Elsevier — the publishing company whose research database is a single of a number of essential bases for establishment rankings — and Clarivate Analytics, a organization that tracks paper citations, have explained that they are analyzing SDC’s citation designs.

SDC, nevertheless, is standing its ground and does not consider that it has erred, in accordance to a four-webpage assertion it shared with The Hindu. The statement mentioned that “ranking businesses do not take into account papers with self-citations”, that SDC does not see “any difficulty with an institution getting growth in publications”, and that as a college it couldn’t “limit the interaction of analysis teams across disciplines”.

Previous incidents

This scenario apart, self-citations to strengthen institutional rankings are not new in India. In 2017, VelTech University, Chennai, hit the national spotlight soon after an assessment by scientists published in Present Science located that it experienced received 100/100 in the ‘citations’ segment of the Occasions Higher Education World College Rankings citations ended up weighted at 30% of the in general rating.

The assessment described that 86% of these citations came from papers authored by Sundarapandian Vaidyanathan and that 96% of his citations, for papers published in 2012-2016, have been self-citations.

Some investigate communities around the planet have been regarded to sustain “citation farms”, a practice whereby they cite each and every others’ papers to a wonderful degree to inflate their standings.

When extreme self-quotation is deemed unethical, self-quotation to a lesser extent is regarded as unavoidable in quite niche fields, with very handful of papers on the exact matter, or when scientists are embarking on an enjoyable new line of investigate.

At the worldwide degree, on the other hand, researchers have located that systematic bias has prompted citations to traditionally localise within a number of communities and nations, producing “citation distortion”.