The Ministry of Science requests an investigation into the brand new rector of the University of Salamanca | Science | EUROtoday

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The Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, led by Diana Morant, has requested an investigation into the brand new rector of the University of Salamanca, Juan Manuel Corchado, from the Spanish Research Ethics Committee, as confirmed to EL PAÍS by a ministerial spokesperson. On March 15 and April 26, this newspaper printed proof that the professor, born in Salamanca 52 years in the past, has inflated his scientific influence with methods for years, together with hundreds of irrelevant self-citations in his publications, giving directions to his employees to citing their research and benefiting from a large number of fraudulent profiles of non-existent researchers devoted to compulsively mentioning their articles.

Morant's division states that on May 3 it requested a report from the committee, an impartial physique created a 12 months in the past by the Government and the autonomous communities. The group, made up of a dozen consultants in ethics and scientific integrity, is advisory in nature and has no sanctioning energy. The president of the committee, physician Jordi Camí, confirms that they’re already engaged on the report. Juan Manuel Corchado has tried to get rid of proof of his dishonest and in March he executed a mass deletion of his publications within the University of Salamanca's scientific repository, known as Gredos. The coordinator of this service, Tránsito Ferreras, has not responded for a month to the varied requests for info from this newspaper.

Dozens of the deleted publications, nonetheless, stay on the web because of CORE, a British platform that compiles research from a large number of educational repositories around the globe. Anyone can see Corchado's traps with their very own eyes. One of the deleted paperwork, from May 2021, is only a paragraph about good cities, with 227 citations to itself. In one other work, titled Intelligent fashions for epidemic predictions, the professor contains three paragraphs and quotes himself 100 instances. His hundreds of self-citations, added to different methods, make Corchado one of the vital cited scientists in Spain in numerous rankings.

The convention of rectors (CRUE) refers to CORE, a platform to which he joined in his response to this newspaper. As beforehand, the rectors communicate in the identical sense: “CRUE has always respected the decision of the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities to request reports on research activities from the Spanish Committee on Research Ethics, as well as the work that this body independent, of an advisory nature, carries out. We reiterate that academic and scientific honesty is a fundamental value for the University to continue being the prestigious institution that it is and in which society places its trust.”

The professor won the elections for rector on May 7, after receiving 2,131 votes in favor, just 6.5% of the 33,000 university students who were called to vote. Almost half of the permanent professors (tenured and full professors) who voted did so blankly, after a campaign to express themselves in this way as a sign of protest. Corchado presented himself as the only candidate in the elections, called urgently after the surprise resignation of the previous rector, Ricardo Rivero, and his provisional replacement, María José Rodríguez Conde.

Outrage grows on campus at Corchado's silence. Alberto Santamaría, professor of Art History at the University of Salamanca, tweeted on May 11: “The only acceptable solution right now is his resignation and the calling of elections with a time margin that allows the concurrence of several candidates. The rest are stories.” Professor José Manuel Bustos Gisbert, grammar knowledgeable, proclaimed the identical day: “I feel that the honor of the University of Salamanca is in question. Therefore, it is my obligation to demand an immediate, clear and conclusive explanation from the elected rector Juan Manuel Corchado. Silence is not worth it. “He is an accomplice.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry emphasizes that the report on Corchado was requested four days before the rector elections, respecting the presumption of innocence and to determine whether a case of scientific malpractice has occurred. One of the functions of the committee is to “issue reports, proposals and recommendations on matters related to scientific integrity, responsible research and professional ethics in scientific and technical research,” based on the Royal Decree that authorised its laws on January 31, 2023. These reviews will be issued ex officio or on the request of the minister.

The only acceptable solution right now is his resignation and the calling of elections

Alberto Santamaría, professor at the University of Salamanca

Corchado lied in March in the only explanations he has offered after the EL PAÍS revelations. He claimed that his documents containing thousands of self-citations were class exercises, but this was false. The professor even added more than 200 references to himself in all types of publications signed only by him. Multiple profiles of invented scientists, appearing in the ResearchGate repository, also published pseudostudies with many citations to Salamanca. When this newspaper asked him about these fake individuals, Corchado assured that he had not created them, but stated that he had just deleted them thanks to his knowledge in cybersecurity. A ResearchGate spokesperson, however, stated that there was no evidence of a computer attack and that only the author of a profile can delete it by entering his or her password.

A user by the name of Brian Lees, from the University of Paisley (now called the University of Western Scotland), included the same 37 citations to Corchado in different studies posted on ResearchGate with dates ranging from 2001 to 2013. Always the same 37 citations , regardless of the topic of the work. The institution's academic integrity officer, Helen Kennedy, has declined to respond to this newspaper's questions about Brian Lees and his 37 perpetual quotes to Corchado.

The professor is widely cited in different rankings because it is also hyperprolific, with more than one publication a week for years. Before the mass deletion, Corchado had 45,000 citations and 2,100 documents registered in his Google Scholar profile, deactivated since March. In another database, Scopus, it has 12,000 citations and 750 documents.

That inflated scientific impact has helped him capture million-dollar projects. On March 18, three days after EL PAÍS uncovered its traps, Corchado presented together with the mayor of Salamanca, Carlos García Carbayo, and the Minister of Economy of the Junta de Castilla y León, Carlos Fernández Carriedo (both from the Popular Party) , the International Video Game and Animation Innovation Pole, a project endowed with 2.5 million euros from the Government of Castilla y León for the AIR Institute, a private entity created by the Salamancan professor. A year ago, the Salamanca City Council gave a 700,000-euro building to the AIR Institute of Corchado, to direct a 3.5 million-euro project to promote the digitalization of companies in the region.

The socialist Government has also rewarded the professor, who in February boasted of having received the maximum funding from the Secretary of State for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence, 1.2 million euros, to create the International Chair of Reliable AI and Demographic Challenge of the University of Salamanca. In March, Corchado announced that the National Cybersecurity Institute had awarded him the International Chair in Blockchain for Cybersecurity “Cyberchain”. “We are talking, in total, of almost 4 million euros between the two chairs,” the man from Salamanca proclaimed on his website.

In Abu Dhabi it presented a two million euro project related to digital currencies in November. In Qatar, he has a project of almost one million euros to manage the energy consumption of buildings. Corchado will take office this Monday, but the academic event will be held on May 31 with the presence of the president of the Board, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, according to The Salamanca Gazette. The university has an annual budget of 290 million euros. Corchado has announced that he wants to build a new campus in Salamanca.

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