Self-citation refers to citing one’s previous publications in a new publication. Author self-citation exists when the citing and the cited papers have at least 1 author in common.
For every scientist three main measures of self-citations were obtained:
- “Total self-citations”, i.e., the total number of self-citations (document level) that all the documents produced by a researcher have received.
- “Author self-citations”, these are the citations that one author receives from his/her own documents.
- “Co-author self-citations”, these are the citations that one author receives from his/her co-authors in the cited document. This indicator is obtained by subtracting the number of “Author self-citations” from the “Total number of self-citations”
Citations increase the visibility of a paper and presumably the visibility of its author(s).The scientific community uses bibliometric data, including citation counts of articles and impact factors of the journals in which the articles were published, to judge the importance of articles. Academic promotion committees similarly use these data to assess the productivity of faculty members and the scientific merit of their work. Author self-citations are not removed from citation counts or from the calculation of impact factors. As a result, author self-citations may misrepresent the importance of individual articles, skew the calculation of journal impact factors and bias perceptions of the importance of a publication. The effects of author self-citation on the process of research and discovery are unknown and potentially important.
Author self-citation serves necessary functions. It allows an author or group to expand on previous hypotheses, refer to established study designs and methods, and justify further investigations on the basis of prior results. Author self-citation may be inevitable when the published data in a specific field are solely the work of one investigator or research group. The greatest risk of author self-citation may be its effects on the process of scientific discovery.
Is self-citation ethical?
Self-citation is when a researcher uses something they wrote as a form of evidence in their new work. It is ethical, if the citation is properly cited and relevant to the current work. It’s not unheard of, and is generally deemed acceptable. Although, self-citation is not unethical, excessive self-citation definitely is. A lot of researchers turn to self-citations to artificially boost their citation count. But when it becomes overused as a form of citation buildup, the practice becomes ethically questioned.
When your work is referenced on a large scale because of your own usage, it can impact your bibliometrics. Citation reviewers combine multiple other factors with your citation count to keep it from being overly weighted, such as the h-index and other elements. But if a scholar really wants to ensure their work is considered impactful, they can build their citation counts by encouraging discussion of the work in social media forums initiated by themselves or use their previous work as evidence in newer research articles.
Is self-citation good research practice?
It is regular and ordinary practice in the scientific world when an author refers to the previous works written by him alone or in co-authorship and cites them. Academic work is inherently cumulative, and often in tracing the evolution of ideas, methods or evidence an author or research team should cite their own previous work. Self-citations account for a significant portion of all references. Self-cites are often used to compare current results of the research with earlier findings when continuing to study the same subject. A new publication is often a continuation of previous studies, but not all the readers may be familiar with the author’s previous works and sometimes even cannot have access to them for a number of reasons. Therefore, it is quite obvious that the author wants to refer to his previous works on the subject in a new article.
How does self-citation impact academic integrity?
The link between self-citation and academic integrity is explicit: citations, and thus self-citations, raise the academic reputation of a researcher or journal in the form of the impact factor score, which is a very visible indicator of reputation. But excessive self-citation can backfire, as many community members become more aware of this form of abuse—because the number of citations is also a very visible indication of whether or not self-promotion occurs.
How to increase the citation of our research articles?
- Cite your past work when it is relevant to a new manuscript. However, do not reference every paper you have written just to increase your citation count.
- Carefully choose your keywords. Choose keywords that researchers in your field will be searching for so that your paper will appear in a database search.
- Source for Keywords: Start with keywords and phrases that a typical user will search for in your domain. You can also use tools to help you identify the right keywords for your content, such as, Google Trends — Gives you relative rankings of keywords and phrases based on popularity and Google Adwords — Gives you keywords that advertisers bid for. This gives you an indicator of what keywords generate more searches.
- If you still are not sure what keywords to use, check out the popular papers in your area of research, for reference..
- Use a consistent form of your name on all of your papers. Using the same name on all of your papers will make it easier for others to find all of your published work. If your name is very common, consider getting a research identifier, such as an ORCID. You can provide your ORCID in your email signature and link that ID to your publication list so that anyone you email has access to your publications.
- Make sure that your information is correct. Check that your name and affiliation are correct on the final proofs of your manuscript and check that the paper’s information is accurate in database searches.
- Make your manuscript easily accessible. If your paper is not published in an open-access journal, post your pre- or post-publication prints to a repository. Check SHERPA RoMEO to find your publisher’s copyright and self-archiving policies regarding sharing your published manuscript.
- Share your data. There is some evidence that sharing your data can increase your citations. Consider posting to data sharing websites, such as figshare or SlideShare, or contributing to Wikipedia and providing links to your published manuscripts.
- Present your work at conferences. Although conference presentations are not cited by others, this will make your research more visible to the academic and research communities. Check out these tips for making the most of your next research conference.
- Use social media. Provide links to your papers on social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Academia.edu, ResearchGate, Mendeley) and your university profile page.
- Actively promote your work. Talk to other researchers about your paper, even ones not in your field, and email copies of your paper to researchers who may be interested. Create a blog or a website dedicated to your research and share it.
- Self-citation: Cite your own or your co-authors’ past papers as appropriate. This is important since citations of your past work factors into how search engines rank your current and future work.