Tech & Science

The science world is afflicted by ‘citation cartels’

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They’re not the kind of gangs that smuggle drugs and murder people. People looking closely at the scientific literature have actually found that a little number of researchers are part of a different kind of cartel– ones that band together to reference each other’s work, gaming the citation system to make their research studies appear to be more important and deserving of attention.These so-called citation cartels have been around for years, as the publishing consultant Phil Davis has pointed out. Thomson Reuters, which up until recently owned the Impact Aspect for ranking journals, has even sanctioned periodicals for evidence of cartel behavior.Davis, who clearly has an eye for this example, discovered

a citation cartel a couple of years back when he discovered a 2010 article in Medical Science Screen with a glaring feature: Of its 490 recommendations, 445 were to posts in an emerging medical journal called Cell Hair transplant. Of the rest, 44 were to papers in … Medical Science Display. Davis likewise observed this:” Three of the four authors of this paper sit on the editorial board of CellTransplant. 2 are associate editors, one is the founding editor. The fourth is the CEO of a medical interactions business.”That wasn’t a one-off. Davis found comparable cases including the exact same authors. In 2012, Thomson Reuters approved three of the 4 publications included by rejecting them Impact Factors. The company did the exact same to six service journals in 2014. For authors, the payoff is clear: The more citations your short articles produce, the more influential they appear. And journals have similar incentives: Encourage authors to point out documents that appear in your pages and you have actually produced the illusion that your journal is highly influential. Undoubtedly, the questionable Effect Factor ranks clinical periodicals on how frequently their articles earn citations. The lure is so strong that modifying services have actually been discovered to produce papers– citations included– for a charge.But figuring out real collusion from innocent network impacts has been historically tough. After all, some paths to creating citations are truthful and fair: mentioning the work of frequent partners, for example, or operating in a little field with few other scientists.A current paper joins a small band of researchers aiming to recognize these cartels– before they do excessive damage.The

paper, in Frontiers in Physics, is by a group at the University of Maribor in Slovenia. They use existing tools for evaluating data online and show that they can choose cartel habits in an artificial list of publications. The work is preliminary, and with good reason.”Attempting to conclude whether posts have been released with the particular intent to increase the citation statistics of a pointed out journal, and in particular the journal’s impact element, is possibly a slippery slope,” composed a different group of bibliometricians– yes, this discipline has its own name.The authors of the current paper agree: Declaring that 2 authors have engaged in inappropriate back-scratching” is extremely unsafe, because we can never be sure that this indictment really keeps in the real-world,”they compose.” We can just indicate that there is a high probability of citation cartel existence, however this truth needs to be verified utilizing a comprehensive analysis.” Nevertheless large the cartel phenomenon, it’s simply one amongst many illnesses affecting modern science, which has the tendency to reward quantity of metrics– more citations, more papers, more grant money– over quality.As sexy as metrics are, however, they’re often fool’s gold. It’s sort of like cutting that Cali cocaine with baking powder– a subject about which we guarantee we have no knowledge. It’ll deal with the street for a little while. When you’re discovered out, it will not be pretty.This story was produced by STAT, a nationwide publication covering health, medication, and life science. Read more and sign up for their free early morning newsletter at. You can also follow STAT on< a href =https://twitter.com/statnews?s_campaign=theweek target=_ blank > Twitter and like them on Facebook. AD

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http://theweek.com/articles/676146/science-world-plagued-by-citation-cartels

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