Researchers feel pressure to cite superfluous papers : Nature News & Comment 2012-08-20


"One in five academics in a variety of social science and business fields say they have been asked to pad their papers with superfluous references in order to get published. The figures, from a survey published today in Science1, also suggest that journal editors strategically target junior faculty, who in turn were more willing to acquiesce. The controversial practice is not new: those studying publication ethics have for many years noted that some editors encourage extra references in order to boost a journal's impact factor... But the survey is the first to try to quantify what it calls 'coercive citation', and shows that this is “uncomfortably common,” according to authors Allen Wilhite, an economist, and Eric Fong, who researches management, both at the University of Alabama in Huntsville... Wilhite and Fong asked more than 54,000 academics in the social-science and business disciplines whether they had heard of the practice, and whether in the past five years they had been pressured to add more citations to their papers for reasons not based on content. Of the 6,672 respondents, only 40% said they were aware of the practice. But half of those — 20% of the total — said that they had experienced it directly. Assistant professors were 5.5 percentage points more likely to be coerced than higher-ranking professors, and marketing, finance and information systems were the worst-offending disciplines... Excessive self-citation can inflate the impact factor of a journal, so three years ago, Thomson Reuters started publishing impact factors with and without self-citations. McVeigh says that the company sees ‘a fairly constant dribble’ of journals that have inflated their impact factors with self-citations. If doing so significantly affects the journal’s impact-factor ranking, the company removes it from the lists for two years (after which self-citations usually drop considerably). Last year, 33 journals out of around 10,000 received this treatment. McVeigh’s figures suggest that social-science journals tend to have more self-citations than basic-science journals (see 'Self-citations in research journals')...”



08/16/2012, 06:08

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Date tagged:

08/20/2012, 15:17

Date published:

02/03/2012, 15:47