Papa’s Pride

Don’t be misled by citation figures! (13)
by Ralf Neumann, Labtimes 05/2008

Journal Tuning

Undeniably, Andanello was a master in his field. Not a year passed in which his name was not announced as one of the most promising candidates for a Nobel Prize.

However, he still hasn’t received the coveted prize, even if his achievements could easily keep up with those of other Nobel awardees. After all, his most important results opened up an entirely new field, which essentially and more significantly helped to shape the understanding of certain mechanisms in several other biodisciplines.

That was more than twenty years ago. In the meantime, Andanello has certainly lured a lot of excellent young researchers into his lab, many of whom have since carved truly successful careers for themselves. “About forty of my former students are now professors everywhere in the world,” Andanello proudly stated at a recent symposium.

Of course, almost all are still working “in the field”. This is no wonder since Andanello’s results had caused the dough to rise to such a huge size, that even a few dozen researchers could easily have cut off a chunk to continue to develop and mould for themselves.

Neither was it a surprise, therefore, to learn that almost all of them are still in regular contact with one another. But this is not only thanks to scientific reasons, there’s actually another reason to give old Andanello credit: he was a champion in inspiring his people with true enthusiasm to work together towards “the great common goal”, to see “the big picture”. Ultimately, he created strong bonds between all of them and formed a very special tight-knit community. And so quite naturally, Andanello gradually assumed the role of an amicable father figure.

Wherever his “offspring” have set up their laboratories, the global “Andanello family” has remained intact. Accordingly, the “family rituals” are still firmly in place, with “members” meeting regularly at an annual “family reunion”, officially called a symposium, cooperating with one another to benefit from the lion’s share of each other’s projects, publishing a lot together – and, of course, quoting each other extensively.

This all happened with every good intention, it was simply in the nature of things. Of course, “internally” everyone was more familiar with the work of his/her “relatives” than that of “outside” colleagues. Regardless of the fact that the latter had greatly increased in a field, which was becoming progressively stronger. However, to allay any doubts, it was old pal Harry’s work that made it into the reference list of the “Andanello clan’s” most recent paper and not that of a certain Mr Yokotashi from Kyoto – even if the Japanese paper was more up-to-date and made a better case.

Some sharp tongues started referring to a “conspirative citation circle” and, indeed, the “Andanello network” seems to have developed into something of that sort. Not, as mentioned, by cold calculation rather simply as a by-product of its unique “family structure”.

“Papa” Andanello didn’t take any notice of those bitter voices, although it was he who, as a result, gained the greatest benefits. Whenever he occasionally produced a paper in his advanced emeritus days, he could be sure that most of his “pupils” would somehow manage to include it in the reference lists of their next publications, based only on the nebulous sentiment that they still owe this to their “good ol’ Pa”.

Last Changed: 03.05.2012