Did A Romanian Researcher Successfully Game Google Scholar to Raise his Citation Count?

International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences

Mostly rubbish.

The Google Scholar profile for Ştefan Vlăduţescu at Romania’s University of Craiova indicates that his publications have been cited 1,709 times. However, most of the citations to his works appear in dozens of articles published in three predatory, open-access, European journals.

Ştefan Vlăduţescu 1709 citations

1,709 citations! Amazing!

Most of the citations to Vlăduţescu’s works appear in the three journals published by SciPress Ltd, a publisher that purports to be based in Baech, Switzerland. The publisher also uses the name Scientific Publishing House. It publishes these three journals:

International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences
International Letters of Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy
International Letters of Natural Sciences

SciPress

Never heard of this place. From: http://www.ilshs.pl/submit-your-article/

Although the publisher claims a Swiss headquarters location, the URLs for all three journals end in .pl — the country code top-level domain for Poland.

The three journals are suspicious for many reasons. I’ve added both the publisher and the journals to my lists. Here are some of the reasons:

1. The journals all have a bunch of articles already published in 2015. The International Letters of Natural Sciences, for example, has 32 articles already published in 2015 in four volumes (really issues). The journals published massive amounts of articles in 2014. For example, the International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences published 30 issues, with about 250 articles in 2014. Many of the authors are from Iran.

2. Many of the published articles are complete nonsense. For example, one of Vlăduţescu’s articles in the International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences is entitled “Persuasion and the hygiene of communication.” The article has fewer than five pages of text, and the references section at the end has 72 entries. There are only 19 in-text citations however. Vlăduţescu appears as the author or as a co-author of 11 of the 72 works cited at the end.

Persuasion and the hygiene of communication

The evidence.

Note that this article was published in July 2014 (“Received 03 July; accepted 10 July 2014”), and it already (January, 2015) has been cited 12 times.

Many of the bibliographical references in the articles are contrived or incomplete:

citations

Example taken from the article: “Informational stocks and elogistics management of a tourism company.”

It is possible that this publisher was set up only for the purpose of gaming Google Scholar metrics. In fact, pretty much everything about the publisher seems fake.

citations

University of Citations.

Academic evaluation for promotion and tenure at the University of Craiova is based partly on the number of citations to one’s published works. One possible scenario is that SciPress Ltd is a compromised predatory publisher that accommodates authors needing quick and easy citations to their work, citations recorded in Google Scholar, and citations that are used to calculate one’s h-index.

More broadly, this scam reveals how one can use predatory publishers to game Google Scholar. You find an easy, predatory journal that Google Scholar indexes, write a paper that includes a long bibliography at the end, and include 10-12 of your own works in the bibliography. Few, if any, predatory publishers check to verify whether bibliographies and in-text citations match.

Then you pay to publish the article in the predatory journal. The references at the end of the article list many more articles and books than are actually cited in the paper, and your own 10-12 works are scattered among them. Google Scholar automatically counts all the references as citations, recording them in its central index. Your h-index and citation count then increase in Google Scholar.

Update, 2015-01-21: Vlăduţescu’s Google Scholar account has been deleted. After this blog post was published, his number of citations changed from 1,711 to 150.

Appendix:

A selection of suspicious articles published by SciPress Ltd.

Article (1)

Article (2)

Article (3)

Article (4)

Article (5)

27 Responses to Did A Romanian Researcher Successfully Game Google Scholar to Raise his Citation Count?

  1. Ion says:

    :)))
    Vladutescu…one of many plagiarism cases from the so-called University of Craiova…

  2. herr doktor bimler says:

    Ah, he’s part of Smarandache’s ‘neutrosophy’ cadre, which makes him a fraudulent grifter rather than just incompetent. Hence titles like “A Completion to the Traditions Matrix-Standard-RT Craig, Induced by the Transformation of Communication-as-a-Field Membrane in Communication-as-a-Universe Membrane” (published in the oxymoronic American International Journal of Contemporary Research, from “Center for Promoting Ideas”, which you have dealt with). Perhaps he enjoys the irony of illustrating the concept of “communication” in a negative way, by not communicating.

    I am sure Vlăduţescu is smart enough to publish in a legitimate journal if he tried hard, but he seems to be making a deliberate point of avoiding them — going directly to predatory publishers from your list. In particular, I see that he’s published in our hijacked friends Jokull and Mitteilungen Klosterneuburg .

  3. Dr.Aziz Ibrahim Abdulla says:

    Very good note
    Please Mr. Beall go on

  4. Kozok says:

    Jeffery! I am still awaiting for your reflection on those two publishers.

  5. juliusjillbert says:

    My dear Jeff, although I must admit as academia I like your other post. However for this I wonder whether it is ethical to post about what you know by giving an example from one individual (Stefan Vladutescu at Romania’s University of Craiova) on what kind of journal that he have chosen as a venue to publish his paper. Please don’t misunderstand me on this Jeff. I meant what you did here is not according to your own purpose to gave us what you understand this predatory journal to us all. I am not judging you mate on this matter as I believe we all have our right on Internet to share what we know for the good of others. I know that you agree with me on this matter. Forgive me if I am wrong about this mate because I respect the American’s freedom of speech act. I truly do cause some of my best friends (even my family live there and my uncle who have passed away by the name of Zaki Fachmi Rachmat who have been passed away in the past serve as academia at the University of Wisconsin). It’s then up to you to decide this matter my friend. Cheers from Indonesia. Respect – jillbert-

    PS: For me, it is truly A OK if you decide to just consider this as a note from a friend and not display it. When you ready to answer my enquiry on this matter, please email me @ julius.jillbert@gmail.com. Cheers.

    • MC says:

      Hilarious post. If there is anything we can learn from this (besides nothing), is it that “dear Jeff” certainly has “decide[d] this matter” for himself.

      And, I’m afraid a google search of “Zaki Rachmat wisconsin” doesn’t bring up much.

      • juliusjillbert says:

        I am sorry “dear Jeff” and for all people in this wonderful forum. I don’t have any tendency to said that Jeff post on this is not OK. I just give a little “food of thought” as advice from a friend who value his’ pioneering work on this since last year. I even contribute my limited knowledge on the matter that interest me most because :someone” always emailed me to submit a paper to their journal/conferences or even ask me to become part of program committee in their roundtable/conferences/meeting/et cetera. And MC if you read till my last line, you would notice that in the PS I state it’s up to Jeff to decide whether he would post my comment on this. However, as you notice, he (Jeff) decides to not filter my comment because I know that he understand that I got good intention on this even though my comment is “hilarious” ;-) .

        MC, Zaki Fachmi Rachmat is one of the Indonesian scholar that I know well because, before working as academia, he have served in FAO in Indonesia, after that he taught that by working as academia, he could share what he know in the states and other universities including Univ of Wisconsin, University of North Hill, and several other private or state universities that I don’t aware off in his country in Indonesia.

        Furthermore, from what I know, most Zaki’s working and writing is only for the good of his student, he doesn’t care about whether he must write a journal or not for his own personal reason. You or other could see what his colleague think about him on this link: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203915931631970&set=pb.1032016292.-2207520000.1422379897.&type=3&theater

        My dear MC (I usually use this kind of word as a prologue for other people that I respect even though she/he criticize me. Personally, I think this is more appropriate than just said “hi” or “hello”), so if you or others understand this, I respect your comment/posting too.

        And MC, it’s wonderful to have someone like you who care so much about this by using Google to find Zaki Rachmat. Nevertheless, if you remember the essence of Jeff posting, then you must not try to use Google to find information about someone as Google is full of predatory journals (https://scholarlyoa.com/other-pages/misleading-metrics/ – point 4 on Jeff criteria for determining, misleading metrics).

        MC + others, what do you say or think about this. Anyone else welcome, let’s share what you know about this so we could be more careful in the future. Cheers.

        PS: This is another “food of tought” fo all to consider: Shakespeare said: “I always feel happy. You know why? Because I don’t expect anything from anyone, Expectations always hurt… Life is short…So love your life… Be happy.. and Keep simling… Just live for yourself and Before you speak Listen. Before you write Think. Before you spend Earn. Before you pray Forgive. Before you hurt Feel. Before you hate Love. Before you quit Try. Before you die Live.”

      • billwilliams says:

        Julius Jillbert, you may have been taken aback to have your first message above treated rather dismissively. I wouldn’t worry as I’m sure there are other readers who valued your contribution.

        Incidentally, on googling Zaki Rachmat I came up with a 1979 North Carolina State PhD graduate of that name – would this be the scholar you mentioned?

      • juliusjillbert says:

        billwilliams. I love the way you write your comment: “…..you may have been taken aback to have your first message above treated rather dismissively. I wouldn’t worry as I’m sure there are other readers who valued your contribution.” No worries mate, I am completely A OK on this matter because that’s what a forum like this for to make us more aware of the hidden dangerous of this predatory journal. Jeff, I salute you mate!

        And billwilliams, you are right. Zaki Rachmat was graduated from North Carolina State Univ. in 1979. And as you or others probably know in the past all universities do not yet have this system of interconnected database to identify those that published their idea (please correct me if I am wrong about this). Cheers from ….Indonesia…..Gotta get off now to attend other important offline matter to attend to as part of my duty as academia. Keep on posting your thought about this everyone. Cheers.

  6. Bernd says:

    Citations on Google Scholar are completely worthless and nobody treats them seriously. If people list them on their CVs that’s a warning sign that someone desperately wants to inflate his or her citation counts.

    • I serve on my university’s tenure committee. Almost every dossier I see states the number of Google citations to the candidate’s work.

      • Bernd says:

        That’s crazy, especially since there are more reliable alternatives. On the other hand, I’ve heard from ERC panel members that listing (only) your Google Scholar citations is a negative sign.

    • Marcus O. Muench Ph.D. says:

      I believe “completely worthless” is a bit of an exaggeration. I think google scholar offers a valuable free service, but I would never decide someones value as a researcher based solely on their statistics.

    • I would not consider citations on Google Scholar to be “completely worthless”. Google Scholar is just more lenient than other options, such as ISI or Scopus. It includes mentions in books and dissertations and citations from articles which are still in press. Especially for early career researchers, Google Scholar can be useful.

  7. Dr, Yusuf Akhter says:

    Dear Prof. Beall,

    Why the Google scholar profile of Ștefan Vlăduțescu is showing only 172 citations??

    • Apparently Google Scholar has removed several journals from its central index. It appeared he was using these journals to create hundreds of self-citations.

      • Dan says:

        I believe Google Scholar made some modifications only in his (Ștefan Vlăduțescu) particular case. I noticed that citations from articles published within the International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences continue to matter in their metrics.

  8. Gary says:

    I’d just like to say a big thanks to Prof. Beall and all those who (without payment) highlight issues like this and help keep science…science.

    Thank you.

  9. […] had the pleasure to read two interesting blog posts yesterday. The first one was an entry by Jeffrey Beall in which he claimed that he discovered journals established only “to game” Google Scholar. The […]

  10. […] pod koniec stycznia Jeffrey Beall (tak, ten od listy drapieżnych wydawców) opublikował wpis o rumuńskim badaczu ogrywającym Google Scholar, stwierdziłem, że chcę napisać kilka słów na ten temat. Szczególnie, że mogę do tej sprawy […]

  11. Cati says:

    hahaha.. did you know that Valdutescu is a PhD Supervisor since December 2014. University of Bucharest gave him this title.
    There are others who have 0 citations on Scopus and over 40 in Google Scholar.. what to do about them.. I have lots of examples..

  12. STANCIU says:

    What do you think of
    Crăciunescu A., Moatăr Mihaela, Stanciu S (http://www.usab-tm.ro/utilizatori/management/file/cv/stanciu_s_cv.pdf, Professor of Law and Vice-Rector International Relations and activity students). Considerations regarding the afforestation fields, JOURNAL of Horticulture, Forestry and Biotechnology, Volume 18(1), 108- 111, 2014,
    http://www.journal-hfb.usab-tm.ro, 108

    https://scholar.google.com/scholar?oi=bibs&hl=en&cites=15297016148286317758&as_sdt=5 (Cited by 9)

    https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=RY3Ujs4AAAAJ&hl=en

    • It’s too confusing for me to draw any conclusions. What’s your theory?

      • STANCIU says:

        They cite by them (auto- citations)

        Considerations regarding the afforestation fields
        Search within citing articles

        (1) Conjunctural trends in the evolution of European and international trade legislation, during the post-crisis period
        S Stanciu – Scientific Papers Animal Science and Biotechnologies, 2015
        (2) Researches concerning the behavior of torrents correction works from Valea Miniş River Watershed
        M Mihaela – journal-hfb.usab-tm.ro
        (3) COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE ROMANIAN AND THE MAIN EUROPEAN UNION COUNTRIES’NATIONAL FOREST SYSTEMS. C Banu, R Lile, T Iancu, M Moatar, D Orboi… – International scientific …, 2016 – conf.rd.asu.lt
        (4) ELABORATIONS OF FUTURE FOREST PLANNINGS AND THE PROTECTED AREAS’ INFLUENCE ON THE FUNCTIONAL ZONATION OF THE RURAL AREA
        C BANU, M MOATAR, C STEFAN, C FORA… – Lucrări Științifice …, 2015 – lsma.ro
        (5) The typological analysis of the forest and diversity of indicator flora in Unit of Production V Luncani-Stâlpu
        M Mihaela, Ş Carolina, C Fora, C Banu, S Stanciu – journal-hfb.usab-tm.ro
        (6) The influence of soil types in the afforestation field of UP III Steierdorf from Anina Forest Department. M MOATĂR, CG Fora, S Stanciu – Research Journal of …, 2015 – search.ebscohost.com
        (7) Study on forest accessibility and collection distances from Moldova Nouă, as the key in defining of eco-productive technologies M Mihaela, I Chisăliţă, Ş Carolina, S Stanciu, C Fora – journal-hfb.usab-tm.ro
        (8) THE USAGE OF THE GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM (GIS) IN THE FOREST PLANNING, C BANU, M MOATAR, C STEFAN, C FORA… – Lucrări Științifice …, 2015 – lsma.ro
        (8) THE MAIN CHANGES OF THE ROMANIAN FOREST CODE IN 2015, S Stanciu, C Banu, C Fora – Lucrări Științifice Management Agricol, 2015 – lsma.ro

      • I’m sorry, I still do not see the problem.

  13. Kuprienko Antonova says:

    Hello there,

    Much to everybody’s regret, the story continues: several of my colleagues in academia here in Ukraine have recently received proposals from SciPress Ltd to join this “Swiss” publisher based actually in the center of the Ukrainian city of Dnepr (before 2016 – Dnepropetrovsk) to join them as reviewers, authors, or both, promising huge discounts in APC if they invite friends. Their offer covers all of their so to speak international journals which have dubious ties (as you reported previously) with Poland, India and Algeria.

    Sorry to bother you and your readers with a simple question: has your opinion of SciPress and its scientific ouput changed since their inclusion in your List?

    Many thanks in advance.

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