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PLoS One. 2017 Dec 6;12(12):e0187394. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187394. eCollection 2017.

Authorship and citation manipulation in academic research.

Author information

1
Department of Management, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama, United States of America.
2
Department of Economics, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama, United States of America.

Abstract

Some scholars add authors to their research papers or grant proposals even when those individuals contribute nothing to the research effort. Some journal editors coerce authors to add citations that are not pertinent to their work and some authors pad their reference lists with superfluous citations. How prevalent are these types of manipulation, why do scholars stoop to such practices, and who among us is most susceptible to such ethical lapses? This study builds a framework around how intense competition for limited journal space and research funding can encourage manipulation and then uses that framework to develop hypotheses about who manipulates and why they do so. We test those hypotheses using data from over 12,000 responses to a series of surveys sent to more than 110,000 scholars from eighteen different disciplines spread across science, engineering, social science, business, and health care. We find widespread misattribution in publications and in research proposals with significant variation by academic rank, discipline, sex, publication history, co-authors, etc. Even though the majority of scholars disapprove of such tactics, many feel pressured to make such additions while others suggest that it is just the way the game is played. The findings suggest that certain changes in the review process might help to stem this ethical decline, but progress could be slow.

PMID:
29211744
PMCID:
PMC5718422
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0187394
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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