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Are Editors Coercing Citations?

April 2, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 14

Dear colleagues, this is a request for your participation in a survey. Please consider this actual example: A scholar receives a letter from the managing editor of a journal saying his article has been accepted for publication. Sometime later, the author receives a follow-up letter from the senior editor of the same journal directing the author to add citations from his journal. Specifically the editor writes, “You only use one (name of my journal) source which is unacceptable. Please add at least five more relevant (name of my journal) sources.”

Notice that this citation request does not mention omitted content or shortcomings in the manuscript’s analysis; it simply asks the authors to cite related articles in the editor’s journal.

This practice is controversial. Some view it as inappropriate behavior, padding citations and diluting the value of the reference list. Others see it as a legitimate way to introduce readers to past literature in the editor’s journal. This study investigates this issue, and we need your help. Please take a moment to complete the following survey; it will take just a few minutes. If you want to participate in this survey, just follow this link:

As required by our Institutional Review Board, individual identities will not be revealed or linked to specific responses. In fact, SurveyMonkey does not connect responses to responders; we cannot identify you. IRB contact information:

Thank you for your help.

By Allen Wilhite, Department of Economics
Eric A. Fong, Department of Management
University of Alabama, Huntsville Huntsville, Ala.


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