SIGMETRICS Digest - 7 Jul 2006 to 8 Jul 2006 (#2006-99)

Stevan Harnad harnad at ECS.SOTON.AC.UK
Mon Jul 10 06:15:30 EDT 2006

Interesting comment, and no doubt valid about a number of routine
biasses. I repeat only that an Open Access database, containing all
citations to and from an article, author, and journal (not just the
ISI subset) will make it possible to calculate baselines for self-
citation, by field or subfield, and to compare and rank individual
papers, authors and journals relative to their respective ("endogamy/
exogamy") baselines. Egregious cases can be detected and named-and-
shamed. It seems to me that this introduces a form of openness and
answerability that the more partial/proprietary citation counts until
now did not allow, and that it will serve to expose and minimize
biasses. (Similarly, full-text overlap indices of various kinds will
be derivable to compare with norms and baselines for the detection of
plagiarism as well as legitimate lineage.) It seems to me it is
highly unlikely that Open Access will fail to have a profound effect
on these variables and practises.

I would also like to offer a conjecture: For every new means of abuse
that the Web breeds (download agents to pad download counts; padded
link counts, etc.), it will soon thereafter breed a new means of
countering the abuse (rather like the endless cartoon series of spy-
vs-spy ploys in Mad Magazine  a few decades ago).

Stevan Harnad

On 10-Jul-06, at 5:47 AM, David Watkins wrote:

> Journal Self-Citation etc....
> Academics are human beings; science is a social activity.
> There does not need to be overt pressure to increase rates of self
> citation
> over a hypothetical 'natural' level. Authors know that editors like
> to see
> their journal 'used', and it is natural that any one paper will
> build on
> similar work that is published in similar journals. Given an a
> choice to
> cite work, even by the same author(s), in journal A or journal B in
> the
> literature survey, which very often happens, a sensible new author
> will
> cite the work in jA if s/he is submitting there, or vice versa.
> The situation is compounded by the refereeing system. What
> assiduous author
> does not try to identify potential referees - often members of the
> target
> journal's Editorial Board - and ensure their work is cited, even if
> it is
> actually marginal? This is a habit instilled at doctoral level: "for
> goodness sake cite the intended external's work, and do so in a
> favourable
> light....!"
> Even it this attempt to subvert the system fails, who has not
> experienced
> the comment from an 'anonymous' referee, that the work of Dr X is
> under-acknowledged, with copious examples, when it is clear to all
> that Dr
> X is the refereee...? S/he is probably on the Editorial
> yet more
> journal self-citations are added during the revison process.
> Probably, since some authors 'work their way down' a ranked list of
> journals until they get acceptance, initial decisions on who and
> what to
> cite therefore also generate an enhanced 'Mathew Effect' which is
> imprinted
> in the paper even when it is published lower down the pecking order -
> although I've also known authors add and subtract citations during
> this
> process (for the reasons above) without altering the paper itself
> in any
> substantive way.
> Not sure Open Access (a good idea suis generis) will impact this in
> any
> way. But almost certainly new biases will be introduced. If the
> rules of
> the game change, players respond (Vide UK RAE etc.....)
> David Watkins
> ************************************************
> Professor David Watkins
> Postgraduate Research Centre
> Southampton Business School
> Southampton Solent University
> East Park Terrace
> Southampton SO14 0RH
> David.Watkins at
>  023 80 319610 (Tel)
> +44 23 80 31 96 10 (Tel)
> 02380 33 26 27 (fax)
> +44 23 80 33 26 27 (fax)
> Automatic digest processor <LISTSERV at LISTSERV.UTK.EDU>
> 09/07/2006 05:00
> Please respond to ASIS&T Special Interest Group on Metrics
> Sent by:    ASIS&T Special Interest Group on Metrics
> To:    Recipients of SIGMETRICS digests <SIGMETRICS at LISTSERV.UTK.EDU>
> cc:
> Subject:    SIGMETRICS Digest - 7 Jul 2006 to 8 Jul 2006 (#2006-99)
> There is one message totalling 104 lines in this issue.
> Topics of the day:
>   1. Self-Citation Bias and Open Access
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Date:    Sat, 8 Jul 2006 18:01:59 +0100
> From:    Stevan Harnad <harnad at ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>
> Subject: Self-Citation Bias and Open Access
> Adminstrative info for SIGMETRICS (for example unsubscribe):
> Date: Fri, 7 Jul 2006 18:15:44 +0100 (BST)
> From: [journalist, identity deleted]
>> I am a journalist at [deleted]... investigating the phenomenon of
>> [journal self-citation bias]
>> I wonder if you could let me know... whether
>> any journals... have rules that state that the author of a
>> paper it publishes must cite other papers published in its journal.
> I have heard rumours, several times now, that some journals have a
> policy of encouraging or even requiring their authors to cite papers
> in the same journal, in order to raise the journal's citation
> impact. I
> do not have evidence of this, though others might. (I am branching the
> query to the sigmetrics list.)
>> Also, do you know of any academics who...
>> have agreed to cite colleagues if they cite him/her?
> That's even harder to track down, but soon it will be possible to
> track
> both: There will be "endogamy/exogamy" indices for articles,
> authors and
> journals, reflecting the degree to which their citation impact comes
> from (1) self-citations, (2) citations to and from the same circle
> of authors or co-authors, (3) citations to and from the same journal,
> or small closed circle of journals, and (4) how this compares with the
> pattern for other comparable authors, papers and journals, equated as
> much as possible for subject matter and citation level.
> Such studies are already possible, in principle, using the ISI
> citations
> database, but the coverage there is not total (it only covers about
> the top
> quarter of the journals published: 8000/24000). Once the research
> institutions and funders mandate that their research journal article
> output must be made openly accessible free for all on the web, it will
> be possible to do exhaustive and rigorous analyses for (1)-(4) and
> much
> more:
>     Shadbolt, N., Brody, T., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2006) The Open
>     Research Web: A Preview of the Optimal and the Inevitable, in
> Jacobs,
>     N., Eds. Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic
> Aspects,
>     chapter 21. Chandos.
> Practices that are openly detectable are also name-and-shame-able.
> Hence
> Open
> Access is both the best way to monitor as well as to discourage
> dubious
> ones.
> Open Access will maximize legitimate research impact and its
> measurement,
> while
> minimizing abuses.
> Stevan Harnad
>> Excerpts from the Wall Street Journal
>> Science Journals Artfully Try To Boost Their Rankings
>> By SHARON BEGLEY June 5, 2006; Page B1
>> John B. West...  Distinguished Professor of Medicine and
>> Physiology at
> the
>> University of California, San Diego ...
>> submitted a paper on the design of the human lung to the American
>> Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. [A]n editor
>> emailed
> him
>> that the paper was basically fine. There was just one thing: Dr. West
>> should cite more studies that had appeared in the respiratory
>> journal.
>> ...Scientists and editors say scientific
>> journals increasingly are manipulating rankings -- called "impact
>> factors" -- that are based on how often papers they publish are
>> cited by
>> other researchers.
>> ...Impact factors are calculated annually for some 5,900 science
>> journals
>> by Thomson Scientific, part of the Thomson
>> <>
>> Corp., of
>> Stamford, Conn. Numbers less than 2 are considered low. Top journals,
>> such as the Journal of the American Medical Association, score in the
>> double digits. Researchers and editors say manipulating the score is
>> more common among smaller, newer journals, which struggle for
>> visibility
>> against more established rivals.
>> ...Impact factors matter to publishers' bottom lines because
>> librarians
>> rely on them to make purchasing decisions...
>> ...Self-citation can go too far. In 2005, Thomson Scientific
>> dropped the
>> World Journal of Gastroenterology from its rankings because 85% of
>> the
>> citations it published were to its own papers and because few other
>> journals cited it....
>> Journals can limit citations to papers published by competitors,
>> keeping
>> the rivals' impact factors down...
>> Journals' "questionable" steps to raise their impact factors
>> "affect the
>> public," Ms. Liebert says. "Ultimately, funding is allocated to
>> scientists and topics perceived to be of the greatest importance. If
>> impact factor is being manipulated, then scientists and studies that
>> seem important will be funded perhaps at the expense of those that
>> seem
>> less important."
> ------------------------------
> End of SIGMETRICS Digest - 7 Jul 2006 to 8 Jul 2006 (#2006-99)
> **************************************************************

More information about the SIGMETRICS mailing list