Elsevier released a statement on September 5, 2019, that it has partnered with Wageningen University and Research (WUR) to tackle the problem of peer reviewers manipulating citations.
It was perceived that some reviewers urge authors when reviewing their works to add the reviewers’ research papers to citations to push their papers so the reviewers can give positive reviews to the authors’ work. This is called coercive citation. With this study, it was discovered that some reviewers’ works were constantly cited in the work they reviewed. This is to be expected as both reviewers and authors of the work they are reviewing are in the same field but some have proven suspicious.
Even though the problem is not common, but just one manipulation of citation could cause a huge problem. Reviewers, authors and editors can sometimes add more citations to work to increase the citations of a particular researcher or journals. A recent study showed that 552 out of 69, 000 reviewers had suspicious citation styles even though some had good reasons for this. The Managing Director STM Journals, Elsevier, Phillips Terheggen said, “Although rare, even one case of citation manipulation can have a ripple effect on the scientific community, detection is an important step in making sure that journal citations can continue to be trusted”
The institution announced on their online platform that they are in collaboration with the university and have gotten a method to detect and prevent citation manipulations using innovative analytical methods, so as to provide quality approaches to scientific research which means quality results. The Rector Magnificus of WUR, Arthur Mol, said “Of course, scientific integrity in relation to publishing is bigger than citation stacking or pushing. Since the imperative to ‘publish or perish’ has become such an important factor in our scientific community, it is important to safeguard all aspects of quality control of the publishing process. This is a joint responsibility for both the scientific and publishing communities, and is why we called action”
It is possible that studies that have manipulated their citations might be withdrawn though studies of authors that were affected by coercive citations will not be withdrawn since the authors are not the “culprit” here. But since Elsevier can now discern published papers with manipulated citations, it is set to stop it from happening. The institution also told all reviewers to make sure what citations they ask the authors to add must be applicable and authentic.