Posts Tagged ‘Thomson Reuters’

Physics Nobel today – Higgs? but (hopefully) not CERN! Update – awarded to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs

October 8, 2013


There is more speculation doing the rounds as to why the awards were delayed by one hour.

There are some suggestions that this time was used to kill the ridiculous notion of having CERN – the organisation – as the third award winner! If that was the reason then it was time well spent!

The deliberations of the awards committee will not be released for 50 years.



The Physics Nobel award has been awarded to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs

NO CERN thankfully.


  • 106 Nobel Prizes in Physics have been awarded between 1901-2012.
  • 47 Physics Prizes have been given to one Laureate only.
  • women have been awarded the Physics Prize so far.
  • person, John Bardeen, has been awarded the Physics Prize twice.
  • 25 years was the age of the youngest Physics Laureate ever, Lawrence Bragg, when he was awarded the 1915 Physics Prize together with his father.
  • 55 is the average age of the Physics Laureates the year they were awarded the prize.


The speculation this morning on Swedish Radio is that the Higgs Boson will be recognised. There was some speculation that Higgs himself could lose out but that CERN – as an organisation – could be a winner. I hope not. The Radio commentators all seem to have the impression that the Higgs particle was discovered by CERN last year. But my understanding is that nothing was actually found. Something – not inconsistent with a Higgs particle – was indicated and the Higgs particle was “tentatively confirmed to exist on 14 March 2013” (though “tentative” and “confirmation” is a contradiction in terms).

In any event, I think the Nobel should stick to individuals and not go the way of the discredited Peace Prize and name an organisation like CERN. Professor Higgs would be acceptable even though it would be preferable to wait – but not CERN.

We shall see. (The announcement is due in about 3 hours).

Thomson Reuters predictions:


François Englert and Peter W. Higgs
For their prediction of the Brout-Englert-Higgs boson

Hideo Hosono
For his discovery of iron-based superconductors

Geoffrey W. Marcy and Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz
For their discoveries of extrasolar planets


Citation stacking rife in Brazil

September 3, 2013

The impact factor of an academic journal is a measure of the average number of citations for articles in the journal. In the academic world it is always better to have your papers published by a “high impact” journal. For editors and publishing houses, impact factor is directly related to revenues earned. Over the years the methods of increasing the number of citations (not self citations, by articles in other journals and preferably from a different publishing house) and the impact factors of journals have become increasingly sophisticated.

Citation stacking has been the method that has developed where editors of journals – sometimes even from quite different publishing houses – have colluded to see to it that articles in their journals cited articles in the others. This has been going on for some time and a year ago THE reported that Thomson Reuters had suspended 26 journals for citation stacking.

“Anomalous citation patterns” is a euphemism for excessive citation of other articles published in the same journal. It is generally assumed to be a ruse to boost a journal’s impact factor, which is a measure of the average number of citations garnered by articles in the journal over the previous two years.

Impact factors are often used, controversially, as a proxy for journal quality and, even more contentiously, for the quality of individual papers published in the journal and even of the people who write them.

When Thomson Reuters discovers that anomalous citation has had a significant effect on a journal’s impact factor, it bans the journal for two years from its annual Journal Citation Reports (JCR), which publishes up-to-date impact factors.

In Brazil the Ministry of Education is obsessed by impact factor. In consequence publishing in high impact factor journals has become a matter of survival in academia.  Journals have been caught in a vicious cycle where nobody wants to publish in their pages because their impact factor is too low and their impact factor falls further because they have insufficient citations.

“By 2009, editors of eight Brazilian journals decided to take measures into their own hands”. 

Ciencia Brasil has been pointing out dubious cases in Brazilian journals for some time. The Brazilian scam has now reached the pages of Nature as Thomson Reuters suspends some Brazilian journals from its rankings for ‘citation stacking:

Brazilian citation scheme outed

Mauricio Rocha-e-Silva thought that he had spotted an easy way to raise the profiles of Brazilian journals. From 2009, he and several other editors published articles containing hundreds of references to papers in each others’ journals — in order, he says, to elevate the journals’ impact factors.

Because each article avoided citing papers published by its own journal, the agreement flew under the radar of analyses that spot extremes in self-citation — until 19 June, when the pattern was discovered. Thomson Reuters, the firm that calculates and publishes the impact factor, revealed that it had designed a program to spot concentrated bursts of citations from one journal to another, a practice that it has dubbed ‘citation stacking’. Four Brazilian journals were among 14 to have their impact factors suspended for a year for such stacking. And in July, Rocha-e-Silva was fired from his position as editor of one of them, the journal Clinics, based in São Paulo.

…. Editors have tried before to artificially boost impact factors, usually by encouraging the citation of a journal’s own papers. Each year, Thomson Reuters detects and cracks down on excessive self-citation. This year alone, it red-flagged 23 more journals for the wearily familiar practice. But the revelation that journals have gained excessively from citations elsewhere suggests that some editors may be searching for less detectable ways to boost their journals’ profiles. In some cases, authors may be responsible for stacking, perhaps trying to boost citations of their own papers.

The journals flagged by the new algorithm extend beyond Brazil — but only in that case has an explanation for the results emerged. Rocha-e-Silva says the agreement grew out of frustration with his country’s fixation on impact factor. In Brazil, an agency in the education ministry, called CAPES, evaluates graduate programmes in part by the impact factors of the journals in which students publish research. As emerging Brazilian journals are in the lowest ranks, few graduates want to publish in them. This vicious cycle, in his view, prevents local journals improving.

Abel Packer, who coordinates Brazil’s system of free government-sponsored journals, known as SciELO, says that the citation-stacking venture was “unfortunate and unacceptable”. But he adds that many editors have long been similarly critical of the CAPES policy because it encourages local researchers to publish in high-impact journals, increasing the temptation for editors to artificially boost their own impact factors, he says.

Nature 500, 510–511 (29 August 2013) 

Read the articledoi:10.1038/500510a

Could Chemistry Nobel today go to evolutionary genetics?

October 10, 2012

UPDATE! Awarded to Robert J Lefkowitz and to Brian K Kobilka for studies of G-protein-coupled receptors“.


Thomson Reuters predicts conventional areas of research for the Chemistry Nobel

1. Louis E. Brus

For discovery of colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals (quantum dots)

2. Akira Fujishima

For the discovery of photocatalytic properties of titanium dioxide (the Honda-Fujishima Effect)


3. Masatake Haruta and Graham J. Hutchings

For independent foundational discoveries of catalysis by gold

But Swedish Radio is predicting / hoping that it might be awarded to a Swedish scientist Svante Pääbo who is himself the son of a Nobel laureate. He is Director, Department of Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. In February 2009 the Max Planck Institute completed the first draft version of the Neanderthal genome. In 2010 they discovered the Denisovan genome. The techniques developed by Pääbo and his team for the DNA analysis of ancient specimens is what might be acknowledged.

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