The Ministry of Science requests an investigation into the new university president

The Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, led by Diana Morant, has requested an investigation from Spain's Research Ethics Committee into the new rector of the University of Salamanca, Juan Manuel Corchado, a ministerial spokesman confirmed to El Pais. Evidence presented by the newspaper suggests that Corchado, a 52-year-old professor, would have inflated his scholarly influence through thousands of irrelevant self-citations and false personal files.

The request for the report, sent on May 3, comes after revelations in El Pais newspaper, which published in March and April the questionable practices of the dean, who would order his collaborators to cite his studies and manipulate data in the scientific repository of the University of Salamanca, Gredus. Although Corchado has attempted to widely delete his posts, many of them are still available online thanks to the British platform CORE.

Among the deleted posts, a document from May 2021 stands out containing only one paragraph about smart cities, but with 227 self-citations. And in another work entitled Intelligent models for epidemiological forecastsThe professor quotes himself a hundred times in just three paragraphs. These actions placed Corchado among the most cited scholars in Spain in various rankings, which greatly affected his academic reputation.

Corchado was elected university president on May 7 with 2,131 votes, just 6.5% of the 33,000 student body. The elections were held urgently after the resignation of the former university president, Ricardo Rivero, and his temporary replacement, María José Rodríguez Conde. Nearly half of the faculty voted silent in protest, and anger is growing on campus over the silence of the new university president. Alberto Santamaria, an art history professor, and José Manuel Bustos Gisbert, a grammar expert, have publicly called for his resignation and clear explanations of the accusations.

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Presumption of innocence

A ministry spokesman confirmed that the report was requested four days before the elections, while respecting the presumption of innocence. The Ethics Committee, chaired by Jordi Cami, is composed of ten experts in ethics and scientific integrity and has an advisory nature, without the power to impose sanctions. Under the royal decree regulating its work, the committee may issue reports and recommendations regarding scientific integrity and professional ethics.

El Pais's findings also indicate that Corchado lied about the nature of his self-citations, falsely claiming they were classroom exercises. Additionally, it was discovered that there were several fake profiles on ResearchGate that published studies with many citations to Corchado.

Corchado, known for his prolific academic output, has attracted numerous multi-million dollar projects. These projects include the International Pole of Video Game Innovation and Animation, funded with €2.5 million by the regional government of Castilla and León, and many other international projects. Despite the controversies, Corchado will take office on Monday, and an official ceremony is scheduled for May 31. @mondario

Myrtle Frost

"Reader. Evil problem solver. Typical analyst. Unapologetic internet ninja."

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