Researchers
August 27, 2020

Utilizing Self-Citation As a Means to Gauge Academic Performance

The use of citation metrics in research scholarship has increased significantly with the evolution of the Digital Age. These metrics are a mathematical way to apply a formula on an overall qualitative finding of how much impact a researcher’s work has made on society or knowledge in general. Although altmetrics and bibliometrics have come a long way since their origins, areas like self-citation are still a problematic factor.

Scholars today are intricately aware of the importance of citation metrics as a measure that is used to gauge their professionalism and impact on the academic world. These metrics continue to evolve as the Digital Era brings with it more innovations, making it difficult to always keep up with the requirements unless you are actively engaged in staying abreast of the changing landscape of Big Data and bibliometrics.

But the general idea of metrics as a means of measuring a scholar’s reputation is arguably sound. It’s an attempt to place a quantitative, mathematical answer on something that would otherwise be subjective, like the impact of a researcher’s work on the target audience, society, or academic knowledge. Altmetrics and bibliometrics have adjusted over time to be less biased and more accurate, but areas like self-citation as part of a means of judging this number continue to be debated elements of the process.

Factors Included in Metrics

The science behind using citation indicators and other altmetrics is still hotly contested because of the argument that other methods could be used just as well, if not better. The calculation of citation indicators depends on the impact indicator chosen to be used, then more variables arise. Considerations such as how the publication source creating the citation indicator totals compiled their data and took care of the data collection procedures, the coverage of the database and the total readership of the publication in audiences around the world, and the quality of the data itself in terms of reputability all make up an argument of the inconsistency of citation indicators in metrics.

Factors included in the formula that compiles the bibliometrics and altmetrics include:

●      The proportion of how many times your paper was highly cited versus the readership of the publication as a percentage

●      The average number of citations in each publication as a field-normalized number that takes into account the grounded value for each field, year, and submission type for the publication

●      Formulas like the h-index, used to determine the citation count using quantitative data obtained from the submission’s results during a specified period of time

●      Citation rates, including self-citations

Transparent citation measures allow for a better understanding of scholarly impact, but the process is not universal yet.

What is Self-Citation?

While it’s considered an ethical and legitimate means of citing sources, self-citation has recently hit the spotlight in academics as a way for scholars to manipulate their formulas through citation metrics. Self-citation is defined as an instance in which any author cites their own works as a resource in their research, and in many cases, it’s justifiable. But excessive citation can turn into a debated and contested factor in terms of scholarly reputation numbers.

Excessive citation occurs when the author of the research article cites other works from the journal in which they are publishing in order to increase the citations of that journal and thus improve their impact rating. It also happens through so-called “honorary citations,” when the work of another author or article from a journal is cited purposely to “stack” their contributions. The more times an article, author, or journal are cited, the higher their h-index and other altmetric ratings, and, by extension, the bigger the scholarly impact is perceived to be.

Tracking Self-Citation as Part of Your Academic Performance

Using your own works as references is acceptable, as long as you avoid citation buildup as far as how it impacts your bibliometrics. Large-scale citation reviewers combine a diverse amount of factors in their overall formulas, such as citation counts and the h-index, so as long as your self-citations aren’t skewed in your favor obviously, it can be used as a scholarly measurement.

As you track your self-citation numbers, watch for distortions that indicate you are overusing your own resources. Platforms like Impactio allow you to watch your impact indicators once your research is published. This should become a regular part of self-reflection and a gauge of your overall academic performance.

Following Your Citation Indicators With Impactio

Although they’re still contested, the general agreement is that citation indicators are an important part of obtaining an objective scholarly impact for your submission. The job of watching your citation indicators to make sure those debated areas, like self-citation, are staying true to your reputation is on you, but Impactio can help make this easier.

Impactio is an all-in-one platform where expert scholars can compile their profiles, then follow its impact through citations once it’s been released. Impactio keeps track of all your citation indicators in easy-to-understand reports that let you see up-to-date, relevant details about the impact your work is making and your trends.

When you want to compile your research into professional documents, follow your work’s citation impact, and connect on a network with other experts, Impactio is the trusted source for you.

Tags Self-Citation Academic Performance Citation Indicators Academic Impact Research
Jason Collins
Writer
Jason is a writer for many niche brands with experience “bringing stories to life” for both startups and corporate partners.

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