A professor who questions the details about Corchado will coordinate the investigation into the rector of Salamanca | Science | EUROtoday

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In an unprecedented scenario in Spain, the Spanish Committee on Research Ethics urged the University of Salamanca on June 11 to “exhaustively and independently” confirm the “alleged bad practices” of its rector, Juan Manuel Corchado, one of the crucial cited scientists on this planet because of 1000’s of self-citations, and to induce its personal staff to quote him from dozens of pretend profiles devoted to mentioning him. The Governing Council of the college has chosen this Wednesday the “expert, independent and external” coordinator of this inspection: Salvador Rus Rufino, a professor on the University of León who has described the details about Corchado as “attacks” on the University of Salamanca.

Vox thought of Rus Rufino to be the Minister of Culture of the Junta de Castilla y León, in accordance with the newspaper printed in 2022 ABCduring which this professor of History of Thought is a columnist. In his contribution of May 21, Rus Rufino recommended the existence of a conspiracy in opposition to Corchado. “For several months now, the University of Salamanca has been the object of some attacks and criticisms that call into question its prestige. The institution is currently subjected to permanent scrutiny by a communication group demanding integrity, transparency and good academic practice in research and in the transfer of results that does not seem to apply equally to other universities. The focus of the attacks in recent weeks is the recently elected rector of the University,” mentioned the professor from León. “We must use the same yardstick for everyone, because using different standards for equivalent situations leads to the suspicion that the accusations respond to a specific interest and, therefore, lose credibility,” he added.

Just a month after Rus Rufino's column questioning the details about Corchado, the Confederation of Scientific Societies of Spain (COSCE) issued a harsh assertion, during which it proposed new elections for the rectorship of Salamanca and a very impartial fee to research the present rector. “His reputation as a researcher is clearly and seriously in question, which undoubtedly tarnishes the reputation of the University of Salamanca itself and, by extension, that of the Spanish university as a whole, both nationally and internationally,” warned COSCE, a company that brings collectively 88 societies representing greater than 40,000 scientists.

Since June 17, greater than 220 professors from the Salamanca establishment have signed a manifesto demanding an impartial investigation, with out interference from its rector. “As these events may affect the prestige of the Spanish university and scientific system, we recommend that the Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities (CRUE) be contacted in order to propose independent experts from outside the University of Salamanca for the investigative committee,” suggest the signatories, amongst whom are round fifty professors and 15 former vice-rectors.

Critical professors have denounced that the Governing Council of the college on June 27 rejected the CRUE coordinating the investigation into the rector. Corchado himself attended that session and was solely absent throughout the vote. The Governing Council is chaired by the rector, who additionally immediately appoints 10 of its 53 members. 30 of them voted for Rus Rufino on Wednesday.

We have misplaced an incredible alternative to comprise and make clear the reputational lack of the University of Salamanca and of the rector Corchado himself.

Francisco Sánchez, director of the Ibero-American Institute of the University of Salamanca

Political scientist Francisco Sánchez, director of the Ibero-American Institute on the University of Salamanca, expressed his disappointment. “We have lost a great opportunity to contain and clarify the reputational loss of the University of Salamanca and of the rector Corchado himself. The mediation of the CRUE, which offered guarantees to all, should have been accepted and the proposal of the rector himself should not have been accepted for an investigation by a commissioner appointed by a body in which he has a majority,” Sánchez believes. “In addition, the person proposed is not foreign to the University of Salamanca, as he is a member of one of the institutes [el Instituto de Estudios Medievales y Renacentistas y de Humanidades Digitales] and, above all, Rus Rufino has left in writing in the ABC that this is a case of media persecution, thus focusing attention on the messenger and not on the facts,” the political scientist emphasizes.

José Antonio Sendín, a professor of Philosophy of Law at the University of Salamanca, also questions the suitability of Rus Rufino — “He does not even have a scientific profile” — and believes that the outcomes of his investigation will likely be unacceptable. “The procedure is flawed from the beginning. It does not provide any kind of guarantee of independence or impartiality,” he says. Corchado and Rus Rufino know one another and have participated collectively in several occasions in recent times.

Meanwhile, the outcry against Corchado's practices is growing. The professor of Computer Sciences at the University of Salamanca was until a few days ago one of the 15 members of the board of directors of the Spanish Association for Artificial Intelligence (AEPIA). After an election, all of them have been reelected except Corchado, whose name and photo have disappeared from the website. The president of AEPIA, Alicia Troncoso, explains that the position of her association is represented in the COSCE statement, which called for a truly independent investigation and suggested calling new elections for rector at the University of Salamanca.

Troncoso, a professor at the Pablo de Olavide University (Seville), also supports the manifesto of the reference organization in the sector. “The Scientific Informatics Society of Spain (SCIE) is committed to the highest standards of integrity and responsibility, and therefore condemns all attitudes and behaviors that imply a lack of ethics and bad practices in publication, such as those denounced by the media,” says the statement, published on June 20 without explicitly mentioning Corchado.

The Minister of Science, Diana Morant, has stressed the need for an impartial inspection. “What we have done as a Ministry and as a Government has been to request a report from the Spanish Committee on Research Ethics, which is what it is there for. And what the ethics committee has done is to mandate the University of Salamanca to carry out an independent investigation with guarantees that it sheds light on the serious accusations that the rector of Salamanca is receiving,” Morant declared on June 18 in an interview on the program The night in 24 hoursfrom TVE.

In addition to the report of the Spanish Committee on Research Ethics, the manifesto of the 220 professors of the University of Salamanca and the statements of the COSCE and the SCIE, the Springer Nature publishing house has begun an inspection of Corchado's publications and, on June 14, the State Research Agency, belonging to the Ministry of Science, announced that it has “precautionarily suspended” its collaboration with the rector. Despite this, the president of the Junta de Castilla y León, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, and the mayor of Salamanca, Carlos García Carbayo, maintain their support for Corchado, who has a budget of almost 290 million euros and wants to build a new campus on the former Mercasalamanca land.

The professor of Computer Sciences stood as the only candidate in the elections for rector on May 7 and received 2,131 votes in favor, 6.5% of the 33,000 university students who were called to vote. Almost half of the permanent teaching staff (tenured and full professors) voted blank, after a call to express themselves in protest. Corchado, for the moment, has opted for silence and to identify the information and communications about him with attacks on the University of Salamanca. “I want to align myself with the concern expressed to preserve the prestige and history of our University, although I cannot share the way in which this concern is expressed. I believe that neither certain media nor certain writings with media impact are suitable instruments to preserve such prestige and history,” said the rector on June 19 in a letter sent to the university community.

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