Nigeria: Is Aliyu Isa Aliyu the Youngest Most Published Nigerian?

19 November 2019
opinion

... he had published more than 60 papers during his doctoral training, all of which are indexed in Scopus and Web of Science. I could not believe it until I did an independent verification of his claim. I then found that he has indeed published in some of the world's best journals in Applied Mathematics.

Almost a year ago, I met Dr. Aliyu Isa Aliyu, a staff of the Federal University, Dutse, at an event in Abuja. There, he introduced himself as a recent Ph.D. graduate in Applied Mathematics from Firat University, Turkey. He noted that he graduated with the best Ph.D. from that University, and if I could remember correctly, he also produced the best doctoral thesis in Turkey that year. Aliyu later proceeded on a postdoctoral fellowship in one of China's top universities, Sun Yat-sen University, in Guangzhou. In the course of interacting with Aliyu, he mentioned that he had published more than 60 papers during his doctoral training, all of which are indexed in Scopus and Web of Science. I could not believe it until I did an independent verification of his claim. I then found that he has indeed published in some of the world's best journals in Applied Mathematics. Although I have not done a survey of the scholarly output of all young Nigerians, but at the risk of flippancy, I want to believe that he is arguably the most published Nigerian of his age. But I will be glad to be proven wrong on this assertion.

While Aliyu may have published many high-quality papers in his field, some people might argue that he still needs to publish in higher impact factor journals before he could qualify as a leading player in his discipline. These concerns may be legitimate in fields such as medicine, where very high impact factor journals exist to the extent that the New England Journal of Medicine currently has an impact factor of 70. However, in fields such as Applied Mathematics, where Aliyu's research interests lie, the impact factor of journals is lower, in relation to other fields. For example, Communication in Nonlinear Science and Numerical Simulation is a top three per cent journal in Applied Mathematics but it has an impact factor of 3.181. Other journals are Control Engineering Practice and Pervasive and Mobile Computing, with impact factors of 2.616 and 2.974 respectively, which are both top five per cent journals in their disciplines. Therefore, since there are 'low' impact factor journals in Applied Mathematics (representing the best in that discipline), it is only logical to see reasons why Aliyu could not have published in journals with impact factors that are above those in his field. Another point to note is that Aliyu is not the lead author of all the papers he has published, but that does not mean he did not design the research and/or write the papers himself. In countries such as Turkey, where he studied for a Ph.D, supervisors have the liberty to take first authorship of papers if they want, even though the papers could be designed and written by the students. Nonetheless, out of the 65 papers credited to him, he is the lead author of 13 papers. Based on data from Scopus, he currently has 950 citations with an h-index of 20.

... Aliyu informed me that after arrival in China, authorities in Sun Yat-sen University further evaluated his publication record and offered him a position as associate research professor. The University had wanted to appoint him a full professor but the only hinderance to the offer was that he never secured a research grant in the course of his academic career.

After studying Aliyu's scholarly output, I was curious to find out why he was considered for a postdoctoral position in China, instead of a professorship. Although I am aware that there are scholarly, administrative and community service components that must be satisfied before a person is promoted or appointed to the rank of a professor, nevertheless I also understand that some of the components can be waived in exceptional circumstances as Aliyu's. I then sent a message to Aliyu questioning the rationality of his being a postdoctoral fellow, given that if the fellowship provides opportunity for improving on research and training as further preparation for a career in the academia and research, then he could as well achieve that even as a full time professor - as this does not stop one from additional learning, improving on their research skills and teaching experience, collaborating with other researchers around the world, improving the impacts of their publications, etc. These are all what professors can do. It was then that Aliyu informed me that after arrival in China, authorities in Sun Yat-sen University further evaluated his publication record and offered him a position as associate research professor. The University had wanted to appoint him a full professor but the only hinderance to the offer was that he never secured a research grant in the course of his academic career.

Dr. Aliyu Isa Aliyu was born in Kano in 1984. He attended Badar Nursery and Primary School, and later transferred to Victory Schools, all in Kano, where he completed his primary education. He later finished from De-Larfel Secondary School, Kano, in 2003, before joining the Remedial Science programme in Bayero University in 2004. Upon successful completion, he was admitted to study for a bachelor's degree in Mathematics, even though that was not his preferred choice. His ambition then was to become a medical doctor because he had a perception that a mathematics graduate would only end up as a teacher and he did not fancy that career path. But with encouragement from his parents and close friends, he developed interest in Mathematics and graduated with a degree in the subject, with a CGPA of 4.22, in 2009. In 2012, Aliyu was sponsored by the Kano State government under the Kwankwaso administration for a master's degree at the Jordan University of Science and Technology. During the programme, he secured employment as a graduate assistant in the Department of Mathematics, Federal University, Dutse. And, in 2015, Aliyu embarked on a self-sponsored Ph.D. programme at Firat University, Turkey, which completed in record time with outstanding achievements. Aliyu's scholarly feats are outstanding anywhere in the world, but more so in Nigeria where very many professors of long standing cannot even match his research output.

Mohammed Dahiru Aminu (mohd.aminu@gmail.com) wrote from Yola, Nigeria.

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