Sunday, March 4, 2012

Coercive Citation?

What could "coercive citation" be? Is someone coercing someone else by citing someone (else)? No, it seems to be the practice of some journals to force their contributors to cite the journal(s) of the publisher to which they have submitted their paper. The threat is that without "proper" citations, their paper will be rejected. The economists Allen W. Wilhite and Eric A. Fong have recently published in “Science” a study called “Coercive Citation in Academic Publishing” in which they show that "coercion is uncomfortably common and appears to be practiced opportunistically. As editors game the system and authors acquiesce, the integrity of academic publications suffers."

The journals that seem to be involved most seem to be the Journal of Business Research, Journal of Retailing, Marketing Science, Journal of Banking and Finance, Information and Management, Applied Economics, Academy of Management Journal, ...

Whether more traditional fields of scholarship or science are affected is not clear, if only because they fall outside of the study. But can they be far behind? As always, whatever else is true in business, "it" must pay. And academic journals have become big business just as textbooks.

I not infrequently use(d to use) a textbook in philosophy that sold for under $20.00 in the eighties. It now sells for under $200.00 and hasn't changed much. When I complained to one of its editors, he wasn't even aware of the price. So, I would suppose his royalties did not increase tenfold. The textbook publishers extort money from the students directly, the journal publishers do so indirectly. No wonder education gets more and more expensive. This is not to say that the rise of the "corporate university" is not to blame either. It's the same principle. Coercion all around!

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