Coercive citation in academic publishing investigated

Feb 02, 2012
UAHuntsville College of Business professors, Dr. Eric A. Fong, and Dr. Allen W. Wilhite co-authored a paper on the practice off coercive citation in academic publishing. Credit: Chrystal Morgan

Two UAHuntsville faculty members from the College of Business were published today in the journal Science for their investigation of an important issue in research ethics.

Dr. Allen W. Wilhite, and Dr. Eric A. Fong co-authored a paper on the unethical practices of some publications, articulating results from their research to show that some editors coerce into adding unnecessary to articles in the same journal that is considering publishing the submitted work. want to increase the number of times articles within their journals are cited by researchers – because it raises the journal ranking and is used to make claims of prestige and importance.

"When we first learned about coercion we were stunned, but after asking around we found that several people were aware of this behavior." said Dr. Wilhite, "At that point we decided to look into the extent and consequences of the practice."

The duo analyzed 6,672 responses from a survey that was sent to researchers in the fields of economics, sociology, psychology, and business.

According to their research, Wilhite and Fong determined that many journal editors engage in the practice of coercion, requiring authors to add citations to the journal that is considering publishing the work. They require additional citation of articles in the journal that will publish the work - without (1) indicating that the article was actually deficient in attribution, 2) suggesting particular articles, authors, or bodies of work, or 3) guiding authors to add citations from the other journals.

Furthermore, the work of Wilhite and Fong indicates that many journal editors appear to even strategically target certain authors, such as assistant and associate professors, rather than full professors, relying on the fact that lower ranking authors may be more willing to add the unnecessary citations. They also found that while the majority of authors disapprove of the practice, most acquiesce and add citations when coerced.

"This type of behavior hurts all of academia," said Dr. Fong, " and affects the integrity of academic publications".

""We hope this research brings this unethical practice to light. If left unchecked, it could distort our understanding of journal quality and research impact and, over time, influence decisions about tenure, promotion, awards and funding. Importantly, it is adding to the pressures faced by vulnerable junior faculty who are trying to build a record for tenure" said Dr. Caron St. John, Dean of UAHuntsville's College of Business.

Explore further: NTU and UNESCO to create mini-lab kits for youths in developing countries

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Free articles get read but don't generate more citations

Jul 31, 2008

When academic articles are "open access" or free online, they get read more often, but they don't -- going against conventional wisdom -- get cited more often in academic literature, finds a new Cornell study.

Can downloads predict impact for scientific articles?

Apr 10, 2009

While the number of times a scientific article is cited by other articles is currently the gold standard for ranking its impact, online publishing offers another measure: the number of unique downloads.

Recommended for you

Cloning whistle-blower: little change in S. Korea

18 hours ago

The whistle-blower who exposed breakthrough cloning research as a devastating fake says South Korea is still dominated by the values that allowed science fraudster Hwang Woo-suk to become an almost untouchable ...

Color and texture matter most when it comes to tomatoes

Oct 21, 2014

A new study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), evaluated consumers' choice in fresh tomato selection and revealed which characteristics make the red fruit most appealing.

How the lotus got its own administration

Oct 21, 2014

Actually the lotus is a very ordinary plant. Nevertheless, during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) a complex bureaucratic structure was built up around this plant. The lotus was part of the Imperial Household, ...

User comments : 0