Here's a piece of good news, particularly for the scientific and academic community. The University of the Philippines, the country's national university and premiere academic institution, has achieved 7th place globally in terms of research citations in the clinical, pre-clinical, and health subject. UP earned a near perfect score of 98.8 points in the most recent Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings by Subject. I'll tell you later why I'm particularly interested in this matter on research citations.
Meanwhile, in the overall ranking for the clinical, preclinical, and health subject, UP moved into the respectable 126-150 band from its 210-250 position. The top three positions for the subject went to the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and Harvard University which even scored lower than UP in terms of research citations, 92.7, 87.4, and 88.5, respectively.
Of the estimated over 26,000 universities in the world, THE World University Rankings list the top 1,000. THE evaluates research-intensive universities across all of their core missions; teaching, research, knowledge transfer, and international outlook.
Also last year, information and analytics company Elsevier had noted that research papers on medicine from UP were cited 336 percent more frequently than the world average. This strong citation performance pushed UP in world and regional rankings.
So what is very important about citation performance? Many teachers and scholars usually take pride in the number of researches they have completed and published. The pride is even greater when their work lands in high-impact research journals.
There used to be a time that just attaining a master's degree or a postgraduate doctoral degree (PhD) is already a badge of expertise earning high respect. That is not so true anymore. With the proliferation of schools offering postgraduate degrees, this has led to what is termed as “credentialism” and “educational inflation.”
Maybe it's quite unfair to say that standards have become low. But the fact is, relying on one's academic degree or any formal credential just no longer works especially in the competitive global environment.
So now some universities abroad require that before their postgraduate students earn their degree, they must not only present a thesis before a panel of preselected experts, they must also have their thesis presented in an approved research conference or published in a recognized research journal.
However, for professors, scientists, and even analysts who may or may not hold any academic or postgraduate degree, the bar can be higher. The real deal in their field is the publication of one's research article or essay in a high-impact research or scholarly journal.
But for the really well-regarded professors and scholars, their most sterling achievement is often measured in the number of times their essays or research works have been cited in other research articles, books, or other sources. This is what is called citation metric.
In UP Cebu, our colleague with the most number of scholarly citations is Environmental Science professor Dr. Ritchelita Galapate whose works have been cited by at least 323 sources, according to Google Scholar. At the University of San Carlos, the works of professor emeritus and now National Artist Resil Mojares have been cited by over 520 other authors, according to my own count in Google Scholar's list.
It's a consolation for the not-so-cited authors, however, to point out that the truly foundational discoveries of the modern world, like Einstein's special theory of relativity, got fewer citations than are expected. Or that they are considered too important and universally-accepted that they figure into our textbooks and papers without being cited at all.
So it is the quality of citation, not the number of citations that is truly important. This is also because of the fact that citation rates depend on how prolific the research work is in a particular discipline and the number of authorities working in that field. But if one's work has not been cited at least once, then one should think twice about its importance.
The point about the whole thing on citation is how the works of others build on your own work. In this manner, such principle can also be applied in general to community and nation building. Real visionary leaders and statesmen usually ask themselves: How will future leaders build on my work today? Will they consider what I leave behind important in building the community and nation of their time?