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Ahmed Al-AameriEncouraging excellence in scientific research in a competitive global academic space is increasingly a challenge for every university. In a effort to remain at the front of research and attract the best and brightest, King Saud University has launched a new award for excellence to reward those high achievers within the faculty.

The vice rector for graduate studies and scientific research, Ahmed Al-Aameri, has worked to implement the award and recently spoke with KSU News to discuss the initiative which he hopes will infuse a competitive spirit in research teams, promoting scientific research.

KSU News: How do you see the development of an award at KSU progressing?

Ahmed Al-Aameri: The timing of the launch of this award is part of the university's policy to honour its distinguished sons and daughters, researchers and students. It is also part of the framework of supporting the competitive spirit and stimulating scientific research, in order to further raise the level of scientific excellence. This is why the university has established the King Saud University Award for Scientific Excellence. It is an annual award that seeks to create an environment for creativity and innovation. The prize does not exclude any of the employees of the university. It is available to all the researchers, students and faculty.

KSU News: What are the reasons behind the introduction of the award and what are its objectives?

AA: The rationale for the development of this award is in service of the first goal of the strategic plan of the University, raising the level of academic and creative scientific research, to serve society. It will also contribute to the achievement of excellence in various fields of science. The goal of achieving excellence has always been high on the university’s list of objectives in its strategic plan. This reflects its importance, and the importance of the service initiatives set out in the programs of the Strategic Plan of the University and specifically the initiative involving faculty members, which dictates the provision of increased rewards and improving the level of support offered to them. The objective of this initiative is to provide a supportive and encouraging environment for faculty members and of course to increase research outputs. This award also embodies the values ​the university, which include: quality and excellence, creativity and innovation. The service of the strategic plan for the scientific research deanship, on the other hand, includes many goals such as improving the quality of the output of scientific research, providing a research environment attractive to competent and excellent individuals, and encouraging the application of new technologies in scientific research. We want to maximize the production of creative research that contributes to the development of a knowledge-based economy, and add sophistication to the level of research  performance, thus contributing to society and demonstrating global leadership. This will also increase the publication of research and improve its quality.

KSU News: Excellence and creativity have various aspects, do you intend to focus on one field or have it include a number of fields?

AA: First, we must make sure that the award does not exclude any of the employees of the university. It is available to all the researchers, the students and the faculty members of the university. So to fulfil this we have made the award consists of seven branches. The first branch is an award for lifetime or special scientific achievements. The award is based on the researcher’s scientific production process, and it reflects on the quality of the individual’s scientific work over the years at the university. The second branch is an award for quality of scientific research. This award is based on the characteristic of quality their research enjoys, either through the cumulative impact laboratories or by gauging how frequently the research is referred to in accredited journals for academic views. The third branch is made up of an award for the abundance of scientific research. This award is assigned to appeal to the researcher who publishes extensively in journals accredited academic bodies. The assessment is carried out based on the ratio of contribution in published research. Fourth is the award for discoveries and innovations in technology licensing. This award is based on discoveries of medical and non-medical innovations and are globally registered and licensed technologies. The fifth branch is an award for excellence in obtaining external funding for research. This reward is assigned to the researcher who gets the highest total of material support in their  'annual rate' from outside the university to fund research projects, whether support is from the government or from the private sector, regardless of whether it is from inside or outside the Saudi Kingdom. The only condition is that the project must be accomplished without requiring the dissemination of its outputs. Next is the sixth branch which is for the best author. There are three branches within this branch; Medical and health sciences, science and engineering, and the humanities. Finally the seventh branch is an award for excellence in scientific research for postgraduate students. This award will be assigned to any student based on their excellent research work in any context whatsoever, including graduation projects and theses.

Conditions for winning the award:

-The work submitted must have been done during the working hours of the university or during the conduction of formal missions and operations outside the university.

-Work can only be submitted once. A researcher cannot submit work more than once in the following year for the same branch or even a different branch.

-Researchers can submit work for more than one award in one year, and in more than one branch. Each award is only assigned to one branch.

-For published or recorded work, it must include a direct relation to show that it belongs to a researcher from the KSU.

-In the case of work by teams the award will be evenly divided between the partners and it will be assigned to those who are affiliated with KSU.

-As for the papers that would be accepted for the second and third branches, they must be scientific research papers or articles that are ISI certified. As for the departments that publishes in the Arabic language, they will accept published research in journals that are certified by certain departments’ councils.

-The committee will accept work that has been carried out in the same year or the previous year only. Except for the third branch, which is for the abundance of scientific research, where the committee will accept the submission of published research papers so long as their publication dates does not exceed three years maximum.

-Those who apply for the fifth branch’s award must submit work, which didn’t take more than 2 years to complete at KSU, and has never received any awards prior to this one.

-One can nominate a person for the 6th branch’s award through their faculties, institutes or research centres.

-The committee has the right to withdraw its awards in the event an ethical concern is  found or raised about the scientific research. No one whose award had been revoked has the right to submit work again for the committee before the period of three years.

-Whoever is applying for this award must not be a member of the award council or the executive committee or the the assessment committee during the period of submission. Also, the committee has the right to block an award of in one or more branch in case its conditions were not met.

-One cannot submit work that has previously received an award on the same level of this award or higher.

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