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UNN secures Nigeria spot on Google scholar citations as SA, Egypt lead

Nigeria’s premier tertiary institution, the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) has the most scholarly citations among peers in West Africa.

According to a list compiled by Webometrics, the university has 162,966 scholarly citations on the Google Scholar Citations platform. However, Nigeria has 170 universities – including federal, state and private – which almost double the universities in the two countries that are leading the African continent on the list.

The list shows that universities in South Africa and Egypt dominate scholar citations in Africa. South Africa has 12 universities with a student capacity of about 60,000, while Egypt has 84 federal and private universities with a student capacity of about 74,000.

South Africa’s Stellemborch University leads the continent with 687,265 citations, followed by the University of the Witwatersrand, which has 569,056, the University of Pretoria with 500,344 and the University of Kwazulu Natal with 410,224.

Cairo University comes in at fifth position with 271,540 and Mansoura University is in sixth with 264,945 citations.

Citations show the impact factor (IF) of a research publication. The impact factor is a measure of the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been cited in a particular year. It is used to measure the importance or rank of a journal by calculating the times its articles are cited.

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The impact factor is calculated based on a two-year period and involves dividing the number of times articles were cited by the number of articles that are citable.

“It shows the relevance, quality and value of a piece of work to the academia. A scholar whose work is cited the most shows how outstanding that scholar is in the community of scholars,” Tobias Tseer, a lecturer at Bagabaga Training College, Tamale, Ghana, and a doctoral student at the University for Development Studies (UDS), also in Tamale, told BusinessDay in a WhatsApp message. “Institutions share in that glory just as a father shares in the child’s glory. Institutions with most cited scholars demonstrate scholarly excellence and pedigree,” he said.

Journals are also ranked based on their impact factor, which is a function of the number of times their articles have been cited. The more articles in a journal are cited the more the journal is valued in the academia. High impact journals are, therefore, highly coveted by scholars. They are more difficult to break into as they publish only the best in the discipline.

This determines whether the journal falls within any of the categories as social science citation index, emerging science citation index, or Scopus. These categorisations further determine the quality of one’s academic work.

“In general, the more citations the better, but it depends a lot on the journal and a range of other factors, such as the academic discipline, the database you are using. Google Scholar, Scopus, Web of Science all count citations differently,” Christoph Lutz, a researcher at BI Norwegian Business School, said in response to questions on the significance citations.

Academic journals are central to the careers of academic staff of tertiary institutions, especially universities. They are considered an important way to assess academics for promotion, especially in the non-humanities disciplines. Journals offer academics global visibility on online platforms.

One of such online platforms is Google Scholar Citations, a profile made available to authors through Google Scholar that allows authors to track citations to their work.

This profile can be made publicly available or kept private to be accessed only by the author. If an author chooses to make their profile public, it will appear in Google Scholar search results.

The top 10 publications according to Google Scholar search are Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine, Science, The Lancet, IEEE/CVF Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition.

Others are Advanced Materials, Nature Communications, Cell, Chemical Reviews and Chemical Society reviews.

Chinua Achebe remains the most cited scholar in Nigeria with 26,717 citations. However, the most cited Nigerian scholar alive with 24,699 is Andrew Olagunju of the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, followed by Benjamin Uzochukwu of the UNN with 15,782. Uzochukwu is a professor with a speciality in public health systems and policy.

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