May 17, 2022

Research Article: “Tracking Self-Citations in Academic Publishing” (Preprint)

The following research article (preprint) was posted today on bioRxiv.


Tracking Self-Citations in Academic Publishing


Ameni Kacem
GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

Justin W. Flatt
University of Helsinki

Philipp Mayr
GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences


via bioRxiv
December 23, 2019
DOI: 10.1101/2019.12.20.884031


Citation metrics have value because they aim to make scientific assessment a level playing field, but urgent transparency-based adjustments are necessary to ensure that measurements yield the most accurate picture of impact and excellence. One problematic area is the handling of self-citations, which are either excluded or inappropriately accounted for when using bibliometric indicators for research evaluation. Here, in favor of openly tracking self-citations we report on self-referencing behavior among various academic disciplines as captured by the curated Clarivate Analytics Web of Science database. Specifically, we examined the behavior of 385,616 authors grouped into 15 subject areas like Biology, Chemistry, Science & Technology, Engineering, and Physics. These authors have published 3,240,973 papers that have accumulated 90,806,462 citations, roughly five percent of which are self-citations. Up until now, very little is known about the buildup of self-citations at the author-level and in field-specific contexts. Our view is that hiding self-citation data is indefensible and needlessly confuses any attempts to understand the bibliometric impact of one’s work. Instead we urge academics to embrace visibility of citation data in a community of peers, which relies on nuance and openness rather than curated scorekeeping.

Direct to Full Text Preprint
13 pages; PDF.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.