A Time-Series Analysis of the Scale of Coercive Journal Self-Citation and Its Effect on Impact Factors and Journal Rankings

Posted: 30 Apr 2018

See all articles by Christopher Humphrey

Christopher Humphrey

University of Manchester - Division of Accounting and Finance

Oxana Kiseleva

Alliance Manchester Business School

Thomas Schleicher

University of Manchester - Manchester Business School

Date Written: April 24, 2018

Abstract

The growing institutional significance of impact factors and journal rankings currently stands alongside serious concerns about the scale and distorting effects of the practice of coercive journal self-citation. Survey-based studies have highlighted journals suspected of such coercion but there has been very little empirical analysis of actual citation practice and the respective impact on journal quality rankings. This paper collects information on actual self-citation trends over the period 2000 to 2012 for all business and management journals indexed in Journal Citation Reports (JCRs) and finds evidence of sudden and sharp increases in self-citation relative to outside citation. This paper also finds that two leading hybrid journal ranking systems, the UK’s 2010 Association of Business Schools (ABS) and the 2013 Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC) rankings, do not discriminate between legitimate and coercive self-citation. Collectively, these findings have implications regarding the institutional reliance placed on citation counts as quantitative measures of accountability. However, the deterrent potential of our analysis, especially given the ease with which coercive self-citation behaviour can be empirically detected from publicly available data, could provide an important limit on the spread of performativity.

Keywords: Coercive Self-Citation, Journal Impact Factors, Journal Quality, Journal Rankings

JEL Classification: I23, M41

Suggested Citation

Humphrey, Christopher and Kiseleva, Oxana and Schleicher, Thomas, A Time-Series Analysis of the Scale of Coercive Journal Self-Citation and Its Effect on Impact Factors and Journal Rankings (April 24, 2018). European Accounting Review Vol. 28, No. 1-2, DOI/10.1080/09638180.2018.1470019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3167710

Christopher Humphrey

University of Manchester - Division of Accounting and Finance ( email )

Crawford House
Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PL
United Kingdom

Oxana Kiseleva

Alliance Manchester Business School ( email )

Booth Street West
Manchester, M15 6PB
United Kingdom

Thomas Schleicher (Contact Author)

University of Manchester - Manchester Business School ( email )

Booth Street West
Manchester, M15 6PB
United Kingdom

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