Researchers pressured to cite superfluous papers

The results of a survey published in Science was the topic of a thoughtful piece in Nature. The issue was how often authors are pressured to use references that help the Journal (by boosting its impact factor) but which are otherwise superfluous. Apparently 20% of academics in the social sciences and business have had this experience and, interestingly, it is often junior faculty who are targeted, presumably because they are more desperate to get published.

Some experts believe the 20% figure is“surprisingly high.”Whether it is or not,

another striking finding from the survey was that although“86% of the respondents said that coercion was inappropriate, and 81% thought it damaged a journal’s prestige, (nevertheless) 57% said they would add superfluous citations to a paper before submitting it to a journal known to coerce. “ It seems that Thomson Reiters who are responsible for publishing impact factors removes journals from its lists for 2 years if they self-cite excessively. Editors comment: I am curious to know how often this occurs in Science journals but I think I can assure readers that Injury Prevention has never been guilty of this practise.

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