Friday, October 8, 2010

Comments on Phil Baty's THE article

This is about New weights and measures throw up a few surprises, 16 September 2010, in Times Higher Education.

Here's all you need to read from the article itself:

The new methodology used to compile the 2010-11 Times Higher Education World University Rankings is more reliant on evidence and less on reputation [give me a break, Phil], and has produced a number of eye-catching [odd adjective to choose] results. Here we look at some of the outliers...

Alexandria University is Egypt's only representative in the global top 200, in joint 147th place.

Its position, rubbing shoulders with the world's elite, is down to an exceptional score of 99.8 in the "research-influence" category, which is virtually on a par with Harvard University.

Alexandria, which counts Ahmed H. Zewail, winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, among its alumni, clearly produces some strong research. But it is a cluster of highly cited papers in theoretical physics and mathematics - and more controversially, the high output from one scholar [El Naschie] in one journal [Chaos, Solitons and Fractals]- that gives it such a high score.

Notice that they allude to El Naschie without naming him.

The comments are far better than the article. The most germane parts are in green.

Darryl Youzefowich 16 September, 2010

Summary: Data is skewed by high profile projects in some high spending areas like technology.

Multidiscipline universities that do many things (good all- round schools) take a hit.

Alexandria University with one scholar does not a good university make, sorry to say.

These rankings are going to cause a lot of pain for some. By their own admission, it is probably a transitional set of data. Outlier universities that are good but outside some of the criteria will not do as well. Some egos will be taking a hit, interesting to watch the fireworks from the sidelines.

higherank 16 September, 2010

Not sure what to believe any more. A better all round approach to avoid data being skewed by high profile projects perhaps should focus on "research impact" instead, across all faculties, as the best way forward. Look at the method below ( see link) seems to lend more of a balanced weight and, provide a more meaningful reflection of universities today.

Check out the better attempt here:-

Peter Coles 16 September, 2010

Universities do not generate citations. Papers do. In fields such as particle physics and astronomy, papers tend to involve large consortia and have authors lists containing hundreds of names. The sensible thing to do about this is to divide the citations for each paper by the total number of authors and allocate the impact according to the fraction at each university.

This would be fairer, but I think Durham and Sussex would still do very well.

iainmacl 16 September, 2010

Clearly this one scholar in Alexandria needs to be offered a visiting professorship at Warwick.

Philip 16 September, 2010

This ranking illustrates the decline of this newspaper over the years from a top paper into a tabloid. How can Warwick not be in the top 200?

Thom Brooks 16 September, 2010

I'd be interested to know the correlation (if any) between a university's citation scores in the sciences and its position in your ranking.

The fact that Warwick can score so highly in the arts and humanities yet fail to make the top 200 may be evidence that bibliometrics were not normalised enough for non-science subjects.

Kampechara Puriparinya 16 September, 2010

New weights, a lot of global universities are winners and losers.
THES WCU Ranking 2010 changes its indicators, and uses Thomson
Reuters to survey the citations of research performance of universities worldwide. Many universities are missed from the excellent tables of THES-QS 2005-2009. The new THES Ranking enhances competitive advantage of intensive research universities which established in developed countries, and mostly lack behide of developing countries. The rich is more richer of the world class education.

Johanne Provencal 16 September, 2010

I expect that I am not alone in being deeply concerned that close to one third of the weight for the rankings is based on citation measurements from the academic journals indexed by Thomson Reuters' Web of Science' database (which represents only 12,000 journals and clearly makes less visible some disciplines and publications and what is 'produced' by universities). This is hardly the "objective and rigorous" approach that is being claimed by the rankings and it is highly detrimental and reductive.

Tyke 17 September, 2010

I suspect that two things will be happening over the next few days: 1. A number of VCs will be reinterpreting their mission statements. So many VCs declared they would lead their institutions into the top 50 in the world by 2015 now find themselves (with 48 months to go) not even in the top 50 in Europe. It's going to take some skill to convince their staff and students (who are probably not interested anyway) that they are still on course for what was patently (for most) and absurdly grandiose idea.

2. University PR departments (or whatever ridiculous name they go under at the moment) will be coming up with all sorts of reasons to justify their VC's inevitable statements that their position in the tables does not reflect their "true quality".

Jonathan Baldwin 20 September, 2010

"Universities do not generate citations. Papers do."

That's a really interesting comment, worth thinking about more.
So let's imagine that controversial scientist A publishes a paper suggesting that, for example, a new vaccine causes an illness in children. This paper is then cited by 1000 other scientists who take issue with it, 1000 media academics who use it as an example of how "bad science" gets lots of attention, and so on. The university where that academic works rises up the rankings, while the individuals who demonstrate his work is rubbish see no benefit.

Seems like just as football teams need to recruit goal scorers, so do universities. The difference is, in football own goals cancel out goals scored against the opposition. In citation counts, bad research that is cited often seems to score better than good research that is cited rarely.

For once, I think web sites with comment ranking may offer a solution here (though I can't imagine how it would work in practice). On sites like Digg, readers can "vote up" links to other websites that they find interesting or worthy, and "vote down" those that aren't.

Or have I just described peer review? Now I'm confused.

By the way, the citation for this comment is Baldwin (2010)

Please give generously.

True, but not important 20 September, 2010

"So let's imagine that controversial scientist A publishes a paper suggesting that, for example, a new vaccine causes an illness in children. This paper is then cited by 1000 other scientists who take issue with it, 1000 media academics who use it as an example of how "bad science" gets lots of attention, and so on."

This is true, insofar as it goes, but the number of papers that are highly cited because they are deeply flawed is tiny, while the embarrassment caused by them is large, and does have real effects. I did a search of the 200 most cited papers in my field, and none of them meets this description - they are all either major conceptual breakthroughs, or cases where someone developed an extremely useful tool or collected an extremely useful dataset. Some may not be entirely correct, but they were major steps forward at the time and where they are wrong, they are wrong in a way that involved reasonable speculation at the time, and prompted genuine additional progress.

There are more serious problems using citations as a metric,. Some pedestrian work in trendy areas can come out rated higher than truly outstanding work in less trendy areas. Papers that shut down a line of research by showing it not to be viable can be extremely important, saving a lot of resources that might have otherwise been wasted - but they generally don't get cited a lot because they shut down that line of research and people move on to other things. Those are the issues to worry about - not the very rare paper that's highly cited for being wrong.

John Erwar 29 September, 2010

It's beyond belief to see Alexandria University ranking at 147 because of a single fake scientist named Mohamed El naschie. I can't wait to witness this exciting theater unfold for the next few weeks when the Times and the world discover the scam executed by Alexandria University. God bless the reputation of the Times!

Alexandria, Egypt ahead of George Town! Wonderful 3 October, 2010

Why is my University "George Town" scoring lower than Egypt's Alexandria University?

And why is THE silent? There is a sensational story, about to break out, and an ongoing investigation lead by CNN AC 360 with its famous motto "Keeping Them Honest" regarding possible fraud committed by Alexandria University in order to spike citations of fake scientific papers published by one its controversial affiliates Mr. Mohamed El Naschie.

The University and its fake scientist's joined efforts proved fantastically fruitful and resulted in achieving the THE's high-ranking which brought Alexandria University from hovering around the 4000 or 5000 mark to the impressive 147.

Now why is THE choosing silence instead of retracting the egregiously obvious unfair ranking, deluding VC's, parents and innocent students?

Anyone cares to answer or comment?

Honest Jim 3 October, 2010

Er, the answer may be in your statement of an investigation into 'possible' fraud. Don't like the rankings myself but don't expect them to be judge and jury.

From #63 University of Notre Dame 3 October, 2010

I think you are making a lot of sense: Harvard scored 98% in citation and Alexandria scored 99.8%.

Does anyone know where to get hold of those fraudulent papers' citations? I mean of that claimed scientist?

Cheers -

Funny research .. Sue THE 3 October, 2010

Yes, go to:
You will see the ridiculous research and don't try to read because it is not serious.

Apparently they are published in an Egyptian publication called: "Chaos Solitons Fractals" founded and run the scientist himself. I found some other sites confirming that he no longer owns the publication and since his forced resignation, NOT a single paper was published by him in any journal ... ever... to date.

I'm still scratching my head. This university shouldn't even be on the map ..let a lone amongst top 200!

More fun 8 October, 2010

The publication of El naschie is not in an Egyptian publication but Chaos Soltion Fractals belongs to Elseiver

El naschie was the editor in chief for almost twenty years 1991-2008, he published in his journal 376 articles. Elsevier fired him on 2008 after a very big scandal. You can learn more about the stories on
To learn more about El naschie just visit

More fun 8 October, 2010

I think the responsible for ranking should interpret and investigate their number. They are not just a machine producing number in a blind manner. I think if they observe one of universities achieving abnormal behavior like Alexandria University ranking at 147, then they have investigate carefully how it was possible.

The same applies to Academic Ranking of World Universities
If you look you will find king saud university (Sudia Arabia ) jumped in just two years about 2000 places in ranking , which is a real miracle.

God bless the reputation of the Times and that of Academic Ranking of World Universities made by Shanghai.

How to understand the fun 9 October, 2010

I think there should some efforts for discussing university ranking like Times Higher Education (THE), Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai Rankings) and of World Universities,

You will find many university succeeded to manipulate these ranking Alexandria university (Egypt) manipulated THE. King Saud university (Saudia Arabia) manipulated THE, Shanghai Rankings and Webometrics Ranking.

You can easily plot histogram showing the time evolution of ranking through the last past three years. You would discover many achieved miracles, it might be necessary to introduce a logarithmic to encompass all ranges in a single graph.

Alexandria university (Egypt) have made a big leap from 5888 last year to 147 present year on THE ranking

King Saud (saudia Arabia)from position similar to Alexandria university to 247 on THE ranking.

King Saud (saudia Arabia)from position like 4000 (three years ago) to 391 on Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai Rankings). It becomes ahead of many old respectable universities in Europe.

If the responsibles for these ranking admit this possibility of producing histogram for ranking time evolution for each university. Then they will easily recognize these cheap miracles.

Give credit to parasites 9 October, 2010

The real surprise is not the expected cheating and manipulation by the unethical backward countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia -they have been nothing but parasites leaching off the technological advances of the hardworking world.

The surprise is that "THE" is encouraging the parasites to claim ownership in the precious real-estate of true academia. The silence and doing-nothing attitude of "THE" is messy and neglectful -at best!

Khaled Al-Rasheid 10 October, 2010

I would like to comment on the remarks by "More Fun". and "How to understand the fun".

Over the last four years, King Saud University, along with others in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region, has embarked on a massive program of expansion and development. We have recruited highly qualified researchers and scholars from all over the world, established well endowed research centers and institutes and upgraded undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, especially in engineering, science and medicine. Among other things, we now have one of the largest Academic English programs in the world.

As a result, the quality and quantity of research at KSU has greatly increased. Between 2007 and 2010 the number of papers in ISI journals tripled. This is only the beginning.

It is not surprising that this has produced good results in the rankings. In 2008 KSU was in the 800s in the ARWU, in the top 500 in 2009 and in the top 400 in 2010. This is substantial progress but it is a long way from a jump of 2000 places and ARWU does not rank anything near 4000 universities.

KSU's achievement resulted fro high and rising scores for highly cited researchers, publications and faculty productivity. All of this is in the public domain and can be confirmed very quickly with a few mouse clicks.

If anything, ARWU has underestimated KSU. The University was ranked in the top 200 by Webometrics, the top 250 by QS and now the top 400 by THE.

The position of 247 was in last year's THE-QS rankings (not this year's THE) and KSU was never in a similar position to the University of Alexandria in any sort of ranking.

None of this is miraculous, just hard work, meritocratic policies and support from government and society.

Finally, KSU is itself quite an old and respectable university.

simple solution 10 October, 2010

Don't despair at rank injustice (September 15, 2010)

"...Finally, why not recruit a highly cited vice-chancellor, as did Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in attracting Choon Fong Shih from the National University of Singapore in 2008? Then simply add a huge amount of funding to employ nine highly cited researchers, like King Saud University, also in Saudi Arabia, which gained instant recognition and a top 400 rank in the ARWU while producing fewer research outputs than 20 Australian universities..."

Some remarks 10 October, 2010

It is interesting to look at history of king saud ranking
Webometrics Ranking
(year, Rank)
(2007, 2998), (2008, 380), (2010, 164)
It is clear that thre is a jump by almost two thousand positions in three years.

For Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai Rankings)
Just look for the time evolution of king saud university on
and then for one university above and below king saud
In 2006 king saud was out of the first 500 and maybe out 1200 unpublished list of Shanghai Rankings then in 2010 gets the rank 391.

Another thing El naschie, the fake scientist, is connected to king saud university. One can find 15 El naschie's papers affiliated with King Saud Univ, King Abdullah Inst Nano & Adv Technol, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Even worse king saud signed a contract for research and development with El naschie (The fake scientist)
This could be confirmed from the arabic website

Tariq 10 October, 2010

Some philistines dying of envy are spitting blood just because a University in Alexandria came out as number 147. Alexandria was once upon a time the number 1 in the world of science and knowledge. Nobel laureate Ahmed Zuwail who graduated from University of Alexandria was not even one of the top students. As for Mohamed El Naschie, he is one of the most original thinkers of our time. He mastered science, philosophy, literature and art like very few people. Although he is an engineer, he is self taught in almost everything, including politics. Now I can understand that a man with his charisma and vast knowledge must be the object of envy but what is written here goes beyond that. My comment here will be only about what I found out regarding a major breakthrough in quantum mechanics. This breakthrough was brought about by the work of Prof. Dr. Mohamed El Naschie. I will report it as I found it and please check the rest for yourself.

A major breakthrough in understanding wave collapse. This is the least we can say about this new profound discovery. The most astonishing thing about it is why it was not discovered long ago. In a nutshell the essence of the argument is as follows: A quantum particle may be modeled as a point. However it is not any point. It is a Cantor point. That means it is a fractal point taking out of Laurent Nottale’s or Garnet Ord’s fractal spacetime. Consequently it is a point but much more than a point at the same time. Every Cantor point or fractal point is by virtue of self-similarity a point representation of the entire universe, i.e. the fractal universe upon sufficient magnification. This zooming process, as explained by Nottale, has no end. This is all well known stuff from the theory of fractals. Now comes the crucial point. Since this point is nominally a point we take it to be mathematically the zero set and physically to be a quantum particle. Now the boundary of the zero set is the empty set. The empty set has no element what so ever and is given in the classical theory a dimension minus one. Never mind all these numbers. The important thing is just to keep in mind that a Cantor or a fractal point represents a quantum particle and that the boundary of this quantum particle is the empty set. It comes as no surprise that El Naschie and his E-infinity group propose that the empty set is just the mathematical name for the probability wave function of quantum mechanics. Such a wave function is devoid of energy, matter and momentum to the extent that it mystified all physicists and led Einstein as well as Bohm [sic. Bohr. A Freudian slip for Böhm] to call it a ghost wave. There is even a theory by both men called the guiding wave theory. The guiding wave is nothing but the empty set. So far so good. Here comes the resolution of the wave collapse problem say the group of E-infinity researchers. Any attempt to locate the quantum particle will include interference with its boundary. Since its boundary is the empty set, then any interference will make the empty set non-empty. Consequently the empty set ceases to exist. On the other hand the empty set is our quantum wave function. It follows as a trivial result that when the empty set vanishes because it becomes non-empty, then the wave function also vanishes. The group of E-infinity did not stop at this disarming explanation of the wave collapse. Using the Menger-Urysohn and the Hausdorff dimension of the zero set and the empty set, they are able to make convincing calculations and derive the topology of the spacetime manifold which allowed such physics involving the empty set wave collapse. You can read about that in proceedings of a conference in Shanghai and With a theory like that we are in a much better position to start unifying quantum mechanics with relativity and produce a real theory of quantum gravity. At least there is more hope that way.

Blood Spitting Philistine 11 October, 2010

To Some Remarks. You are out of date. The King Saud University stopped its contract with Dr El Naschie. That is why he is suing Nature journal.

To Tariq. Since El Naschie has mastered literature like very few people perhaps you can ask him to explain his theories. He could not do worse than you.

Jason of the blog "El Naschie Watch" 11 October, 2010

Hello Blood Spitting Philistine, I have a question. The El Naschie camp has said that he's suing because of loss of opportunities resulting from the Nature article. It makes sense that loss of a deal with King Saud University would be mentioned in his suit, but I had not heard that detail before. Can you tell us anything else about the suit and its status?

Jason of the blog "El Naschie Watch" 11 October, 2010

Ah, never mind, it said that in the Sarah Limbrick article.

few clicks 11 October, 2010

According to Khaled Al-Rasheid
KSU's acheivement resulted fro high and rising scores for highly cited researchers, publications and faculty productivity. All of this is in the public domain and can be confirmed very quickly with a few mouse clicks.

If one uses ISI web of knowledge one can find the publication record of AL-RASHEID, KAS as year(number of publications)
2010 (40) , 2009 (22), 2008 (30), 2007(7), 2006 (6), 2005(3), 2003 (3), 2002 (2), 2001(4), 2000(1).

It is clear when jumping occurs. Of course this is far from being a miracle, it is just a result of hard working day and night.

simpliste 16 November, 2010

Egg on face time for THE and ISI. ISI analysis actually provides a method for removing self-citations; they should have applied their own tools a little more carefully. That might have spared them some embarrassment (though it wouldn't have caught the cases where El Naschie wrote under a pseudonym.) The suggestion above that citations be shared between multiple authors is also a good one.

However, this kind of bibliometrics is always going to be rubbish, as bigger fields have more papers and more citations (and defining a field is impossible). Should all researchers be driven to work in the same field, to maximise their citations??

Thanks to reader VE, an Egyptian expatriate, for pointing out the comment thread. He has an inaugural blog post of his own, Times Higher Education ranks Alexandria University the world's #4 in research, which includes his letter to THE. It's superb. Here it is, including the letter:

You'd think because I am Egyptian and wish the best for my country, I should feel happy when I read the surprising news that my University, Alexandria, moved from its ranking number of 5882 last year to #147 worldwide this year. But because I love my country I raised the red flag immediately after I saw the obvious fraud committed by another Egyptian -selfish one though. His name is Mohamed El Naschie who manged in the past decade to conspire with another fake Chinese scientist where both cited one another's papers, which spiked the Alexandria's citation ratio from almost zero to 96% -ahead of Harvard's. The results are: the number 5882 rank climbs to #147 -amazing!

Then if you are from a culture that claims to be the best people God has created to mankind "وكنتم خير أمة أخرجت للناس", wouldn't you reject the undeserved credit and give it to those worthy of claiming it? That's not what happened. Alexandria University hastened to self-congratulate and considered the unexpected jackpot a gift from Allah who defeated the Israelis who didn't come close to the top 200!

I sent a letter after letter to the Times and urged them to retract their erroneous ranking but heard nothing back. Below is one of the letter I sent:

You would agree that it is your responsibility to fact-check the information according to which you announce to parents around the world the best educational institutes worthy of receiving their hard-earned money. Yes you did them a great favor by saving them on the laborious research. Yes you did the legwork for them. However, if you fail to verify the veracity of the information collected, you could harm them instead.

Now, I urge you to check the 96% citation reported for Alexandria University and you will find that 99% of them were fraud. Yes, fraud! A man by the name of Mohamed El Nachaei colluded with Alexandria University for the past ten years to achieve that rank you just proclaimed. They started a fake journal, of which Mr. El Nachaei was the chief editor and of course approved his own useless papers which he published with an astounding rate of four per month. Then he contacted his co-conspirer from China to cite the fake papers –a favor that Mr. El Naschie would return of course by citing those of the Chinese counterpart, resulting in fraudulent skyrocketing citation volume. It bypassed those of Harvard, MIT and any other research institute in the world.

All the while, the called El Naschie is a joke in Egypt and in fact, there is a website dedicated to show his scientific irrelevance:
Please visit:

He later was terminated from his journal and the strangest thing is that he has not since published a single paper! Instead, he works as a B writer in a local magazine having nothing to do with science what so ever.

Please view those fake citations yourself at:

Please consider revising your decision and tell parents the truth before many become harmed and victimized by your -so far- innocent error. You owe a moral responsibility to your fellow humans, which would speak volume of your courage in the future -if you accept responsibility and sincerely display your erroneous findings. It's the only way to regain trust before the truth, which is already percolating, is revealed by angry deceived victims.


After the letter I added a comment or two on the following article:

I am yet to receive an acknowledgement from anyone!

See also:

Translate English to Arabic
محمد النشائى El Naschie Watch محمد النشائي El Naschie News محمد النشائى محمد النشائي All El Naschie All The Time محمد النشائى

1 comment:

  1. Updated with three comments from today.