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Spam Science

Brazilian Journals' Self-Citation Cartel Smashed 68

ananyo writes "Thomson Reuters has uncovered a Brazilian self-citation cartel in which editors of journals cited each other to boost their impact factors. The cartel grew out of frustration with the system for evaluating graduate programs, which places too much emphasis on publishing in 'top tier' journals, one of the editors claims. As emerging Brazilian journals are in the lowest ranks, few graduates want to publish in them. This vicious cycle, in his view, prevents local journals improving. Both the Brazilian education ministry and Thomson Reuters have censured the journals. The ministry says articles from the journals published in 2012-12 will not count in any future assessment, and Thomson Reuters has suspended their impact factors."
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Brazilian Journals' Self-Citation Cartel Smashed

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  • Isn't it ironic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:02AM (#44695561)

    Metrics influence journals more than journals influence metrics.

  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:06AM (#44695593)
    Tier 1 journals do the same. It is open secret that you are more likely to get published if you heavily citing papers from the journal.

    Impact factors, publish or perish, and pay walled articles means that a lot of shoddy "science" is going on out of public's eye. In a small field you are not going to rock the boat when your college is pushing out questionable papers. Sure, if you get selected to review the paper you can push back, but then you get to known by editors as "difficult one" and excluded in the future. Back when I worked in science more than half papers were unreproducible, meaning they collected data until significance then wrote paper around it.

    More = Better mentality has to go. We do not push boundary of our knowledge by verbiage and fishing expeditions.
  • Paper quality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Janek Kozicki ( 722688 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:14AM (#44695647) Journal
    Well, it takes much more work, but would have worked a lot better if editors focused on paper quality instead. Doing a good review (a review which really helps the authors to improve the quality of their research) is a lot of hard work. I still don't understand why mostly it's unpaid. They could go as far as paying the reviewers proportionally to the number of (real) citations, obtained by the reviewed paper, in two years after the publication. That would really encourage doing good reviews, and helping the authors.

    The system is broken, but few people outside university realize how badly it is broken. I did some reviews, but I prefer to not, because there is no reward, and my time is better spent on actual research. Also it happened to me once, that I recommended rejecting a paper and I worked hard to write a good review, and the paper was published nevertheless with only few things corrected. How that journal expects to have a high citation rate is beyond me. Yes I understand that the reviewers work is for free and for the sake of humanity, but the level to which it is exploited by journals is just outrageous. I feel much better developing open source software, which is also done for free and for the sake of humanity, becuase nobody exploits me doing this.

    This cartel is not the only one. And more of this will happen in near future until some kind of revolution will take place. Moving toward open access is a good direction and I hope that it will take part in revolutionizing the pulication mechanisms.

    Oh well, I hope that more scandalous things like this one will resurface, which will tell people that a reform is needed. And maybe something that encourages quality and not cheating will be discovered....
  • Re:Paper quality (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:32AM (#44695789)

    "Doing a good review (a review which really helps the authors to improve the quality of their research) is a lot of hard work. I still don't understand why mostly it's unpaid."

    Even though doing a good review is indeed a lot of hard work (my goal is to improve the paper even if I disagree with it), the idea of getting paid for it would lead to even worse abuses. I would refuse such money if it were offered. If you can't see ways in which such a financial incentive could be abused, then you aren't being imaginative enough (e.g., citing the paper yourself to boost the amount you'll get paid, or if that's not allowed because it is too obvious, asking other people to do so). The paper should be published based on merit. Merit should be evaluated independent of any financial concerns.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake