African Politics and Policy

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Citations and awards, or why Umberto Eco should have done more and better to get an award

In 1992, Umberto Eco turned 60 and his scholarship was celebrated in a Festschrift edited by his students and collaborators. At the age of 60 Umberto Eco had published 35 books and a little more than 400 book chapters and journal articles. One of his books had, by then, become an international best-seller, several dissertations had been written on Eco and his novels, and from that point on Umberto Eco was Italy’s best candidate for the Nobel Prize in literature.

In spite of his many accomplishments Eco, however, would never win the research award in my university.

The Research Award Committee, in its deliberations last week, noted that awards will be handed out only to scholars whose contributions is worthy of a Nobel prize, that the impact of the research will be assessed on the basis of the number of citations that one receives, that only the citations and the H-index generated by SCOPUS (or the Web of Science) should be considered as proper citations, and that scholars with a H-index of 9 cannot possibly be handed a Research Award (or be promoted to the rank of Associate Professor) because an H-index of 9 is too low to justify awards and promotions.

Since Umberto Eco never won the Nobel Prize and since in his long career he has collected only 303 Web of Science citations (with an H-index of 9;  7.2 citations per year; 2.48 citations per item), it is clear that he is not good enough to receive a research award –his contribution was not worthy of a Nobel and the H-index is not sufficiently high.

Obviously since many people were denied promotion for they only had an H-index of 9, it is clear that Eco would not even deserve to be promoted to the rank of associate professor.

And when one of the best known scholars and intellectuals of the past 50 years is not good enough to be appointed here, one wonders where and how the university will find better and brighter scholars to expand its faculty.

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