My essay published last week on this space as well as on my Medium blog, which was entitled “Is Aliyu Isa Aliyu the youngest most published Nigerian?” has attracted thousands of views and reads as adjudged by Medium analytics. The motivation for writing the essay was basically two—first, it is important that young and high-flying achievers like Aliyu are celebrated publicly to inspire others, and second, I wanted the essay to excite a healthy conversation on the scholastic output of young Nigerians as Aliyu. And as regards the latter, I have received some interventions that might want to extend the conversation even further.
After the essay was published, it was interesting to find out, as confirmed by Aliyu, that when soliciting financial support for doctoral program in Firat University, Turkey, he applied for a TETFund sponsorship but the application was turned down on the basis that the University he intended to attend was deemed a mushroom institution and thus unacceptable to the Fund. It is interesting to find out that an unacceptable institution by the Fund had provided a platform for Aliyu to excel impressively.
As a response to my essay, Aliyu was asked by friends and acquaintances if he could make some comments regarding how he came about these excellent achievements. I reproduce his submission here:
It is true that I have recorded lots of achievements in research and publications in the last four years. But there are two other young and vibrant applied mathematicians and Nigerians, Abdullah Yusuf and Muhammad Tukur, who will be rounding up their doctorate studies in few weeks. Both of them are my colleagues. They have also performed excellently in research and publications as much as I did. I hope your write up will encourage other young academics to work harder and build a successful academic career. But it is important to make the following points very clear.
It is true that I have authored and coauthored at least 60 papers during my doctoral program. These results are easy to verify from my Web of Science profile with Researcher ID: L-3765-2017. But I was not the only person that made those papers. We were two; my research colleague Abdullahi Yusuf and I. Two professors were also involved but only as supervisors of the work. So, to this very day, my name has never and will never appear in any paper which I have not contributed in its main findings. Doing the contrary, is, in my opinion, academically unethical.
Most of the problems we solved in mathematical physics were problems that required a high-level mathematical computation skill using computer programming. They were highly nonlinear in nature. I am blessed with the skill of manipulating computer programs as MATLAB, Wolfram Mathematica, Maple, Reduce, Arena and several others. In fact, I have in the last few weeks finished the coding of a Maple package that will solve a lot of problems of fractional mathematical biology models. The paper would soon be submitted for publication. When I first arrived China in April this year, the academics at the School of Mathematics, Sun Yat-sen University, were also in doubt of the publications attributed to me. Some of them thought that the papers were accepted because of the names of those famous scientists on them. Because of that, I prepared two single author manuscripts and I asked the School Chairman to recommend any journal for me to submit these papers; preferably journals that I have not published in. He did and both papers have been accepted and are in press now. They have all agreed that indeed I did most of those papers myself.
And some people may still argue that how on earth could someone sit and write all those papers within the time I did, as the writing itself is a whole lot of work. Well, it is very possible. I have skills for linking and converting mathematical results derived from mathematical software directly to LaTeX or Word packages. I have been using LaTeX for more than a decade and that helped me a lot in the preparation of manuscripts. I can produce a 50-page mathematical equation document in three to four days which ordinarily may take other people a month to do. Also, I was supervised by two professors who are well known in the field of mathematical physics. One of them was the most cited mathematician in the whole world in 2018 and was awarded a medal by Thompson Reuters’ Clarivate Analytics. These are people who have made name in the field and have a lot of research collaborators. One of the professors introduced a fractional derivative operator in 2016 which my colleague and I modified to accommodate memory effects in such a way that the operator can be used to solve a lot of mathematical biology models. We used our findings to solve some problems and publish the results. Researchers in this field have been citing the papers anytime they were to apply the knowledge we used.
About 80 percent of the papers we published were indexed in Scopus and Web of Science. Most of them were not published under the open access arrangements and were subjected to thorough peer review process of at least three months. I doubt if these journals will accept any work and publish it for free if they were a trash. In all the journals I have published in, to the best of my knowledge, none of them has an impact factor of more than 5, since journals in our field do not have higher impact factors. And we published at zero cost in all of them. I hope my explanations help.