Jaume Masip
Department of Social Psychology and Anthropology

Coercive citations in academic journals

Wilhite and Fong (2012) published a study in Science examining requests that journal editors make to authors to cite superfluous papers published in their journal. Wilhite and Fong analyzed more than 6500 responses from a survey completed by researchers in economics, sociology, psychology, and diverse business disciplines, as well as data from more than 800 scholarly journals in those disciplines. They found that 86% of respondents viewed coercion as inappropriate, yet 57% said they would include superfluous citations to a manuscript before submitting it to a journal known to coerce. The study also showed that the likelihood of coercion decreases if the authors are senior rather than junior faculty members, if the manuscript has many rather than few authors, and if other journals in the discipline do not coerce. Indeed, coercion was shown to be much more prevalent in some areas (such as most business disciplines) than in others (psychology and sociology). Journals published by commercial, for-profit companies use coercion more often than journals published by universities.

Read the original Science article.

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