This time in Brazil. We wrote about this practice earlier, of manipulating citations in order to increase a journal’s apparent impact factor, for example journals banned from impact factor list and major journals questioning the value of the measurement.
According to Nature News,
Mauricio Rocha-e-Silva thought that he had spotted an easy way to raise the profiles of Brazilian journals. From 2009, he and several other editors published articles containing hundreds of references to papers in each others’ journals — in order, he says, to elevate the journals’ impact factors.
Because each article avoided citing papers published by its own journal, the agreement flew under the radar of analyses that spot extremes in self-citation — until 19 June, when the pattern was discovered.
Wasn’t a book written some years ago called The Design Inference?
Anyway, one editor was fired and several journals have been punished in citation rankings. The practice is hardly unique to Brazil:
What happened in the cases of the other ten journals censured for citation stacking is unclear. One involves a close pattern of citations between three Italian journals (International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents and European Journal of Inflammation) all with the same editor-in-chief, Pio Conti, an immunologist at the University of Chieti-Pescara. Many of the authors on the relevant papers are also at that university. Conti told Nature that he regretted that the anomalous citations had occurred, but that “we have no quick explanation of the patterns”.
Nope. No design inference here, folks. Pure randomness produces the needed result, just like Dawkins’s followers insist. And don’t tell us that the rules are suspended when humans are involved. Humans are not some sort of privileged species and free will and consciousness don’t exist.
Thomson Reuters has received some appeals against its rulings, with some editors arguing that to suspend impact factors for incoming citations of which they were unaware was unfair; or that outgoing citations did not affect their own journal. The firm will deal with these by September, McVeigh says.
Except maybe Counsel for the Defense if all this hits the courtroom. 😉 😐