Imprimir Republish

Good practices

The geography of self-citation

Survey suggests that a high frequency of omissions and mistakes could cause more damage to scientific integrity than occasional cases of fraud

One dishonest trick used by researchers to inflate the impact of their scientific output is deceitful self-citation—when the author of an article needlessly cites several of their own previous papers in order to increase the number of citations. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology by researchers at the University of Leuven, Belgium, suggests that excessive self-citation is most common in countries where individualism and competitiveness are strong cultural traits, such as the United States and the United Kingdom. Lead author of the study Nick Deschacht, from the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK, wrote in a blog post that “these countries emphasize personal development, which can reinforce practices driven by self-promotion.”

According to the study, self-citation is less frequent in countries where the prevailing culture is more collectivist, such as China and South Korea. Deschacht and his team analyzed the number of self-citations in 1,346 articles published in the fields of management and business between 2009 and 2014. In “individualist” countries, 13% of authors made five or more self-citations in the papers analyzed, compared to only 7% of the authors in countries determined as “collectivist.”