Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gratuitous self-citation guy

I am in the process of reviewing a review paper from a large lab in my field. They have given it a catchy title, but what it should really be called is "Stuff we have done in the last 10 years, with a tiny bit of new data thrown in because we didn't know what else to do with it". The paper endlessly cites previous lab publications without remorse and blatantly under-sells work by non-lab-affiliated people. Even as a review, the manuscript re-hashes points made in two papers already published in 2009 in high-profile journals, which of course, go uncited. I'm not surprised since it seems like this lab publishes 4 reviews for every data paper it churns out, but over 20% of their references are papers published in the lab. In a field where they were solely working that might no seem too bad, but in this case it is a little over the top. It's not the sheer quantity of self-citation, but also the placement. In any area of the paper where they have lab papers, it is those that are cited as examples, whereas papers of equal impact to the discussion, but from "competing" groups, are mentioned almost as an after-thought - as though they recoginize that a reviewer will call them on not citing those papers so they have them in there on their terms. Is this a blatant attempt to de-emphasize the contribution of others to the questions at hand or simply a case of knowing your own data better than that of other labs? While I want to believe the latter, the former seems to be jumping up and down, waving it's hands like a first-grader who wants permission to leave the class and go pee.


  1. One of the jobs of the reviewers is to rein that nonsense back into a semblance of good scholarship...

  2. Yeah, I'm trying to figure out if the whole thing is even worth ending up in print. The information has been covered very recently in multiple reviews and without the narcissism.

  3. Grrrrrr! I'm just now reading a paper by one of those blow-hards. What kills me is that the introduction just categorically ignores the plethora of work done in my field that either refutes or does not directly support all of the "conclusions" gathered by the gazillions of half-assed first- and last-author papers done by this guy.

    He's incredibly prolific, but his studies are trivial and peripheral at best and yet he makes global claims about mechanisms that are related but which his experiments do not even approach. And while other people cite his papers for the occasional interesting data points provided by plethora of peripheral papers, NO ONE claims his conclusions to be true nor cites the papers in reference to said "conclusions"...except for him. And he does it all.the.time.

    And so these poorly (if at all) supported "models" that he puts forth in his papers continue to be perpetuated in the literature (by no one but himself) and despite the fact that there is next to no evidence to support them, they just. won't. die. arrrrrgh!

    Dude. Seriously. I know you think you're hot shit because you've got eleventy-gazillion papers on your CV. And while I think that your data is pithy and peripheral and possibly irrelevant I don't take issue with the validity data themselves. But it should tell you something that the vast majority of your citations come from YOURSELF, and that NOBODY else picks up your models and conclusions and cites them...it's because NOBODY BUT YOU thinks they're any good! It is statistically probable that 1 in 4 people are full of shit. Check 3 colleagues - nope, they're not...guess what man? It's you!

    Since he always publishes in the same small but field-specific journals, I can't decide whether he is on or sleeping with the editorial board of each of them. Otherwise there is no good explanation as to why the self-citation ad nauseum even gets sent out for review.

  4. Jerks, you KNOW they've milked about 654 conference presentations out of the material too. I think gratuitous self citation guy just reviewed my paper...I just refer him to as asshole.

    I am attempting to leave a gratuitous link to myself and it is not working, so here!