02 May 2018

A footnote on self-citation and duplicate publication

Since discussion of the topics of self-citation and duplicate publication seems to be "hot" at the moment, and I have probably had something to do with at least the second of those, I feel that I ought to mention my own record in this area, in the interest of full transparency.

I've never really thought about how bad "excessive" self-citation is as a misdemeanour on the academic "just not done" scale, nor indeed what "excessive might mean", but I think there are a few rather severe problems with self-plagiarism (aka duplicate publication):

  1. Copyright (whether we like it or not, most of the time, we sign over copyright to all of the text, give or take "fair use", to the publisher of an article or chapter);
  2. It's a low-effort way to pad your CV;
  3. Possible deception of the editors of books or journals to which the duplicates were submitted;
  4. Possible deception of the readers.
James Heathers has more thoughts on this here.

First, self-citation: According to Google Scholar, my published work (most, but not all, of it peer-reviewed) has 376 citations as of today. I have gone through all of the manuscripts with which I have been involved and counted 14 self-citations, plus two citations of chapters by other people in a book that I co-edited (which count towards my Google Scholar h-index). For what it's worth, I am not suggesting that anyone should feel the need to calculate and disclose their self-citation rate, as it would be a very tedious exercise for people with a lot of publications.

Second, duplicate publication: I am the third author (of four; I estimate that I contributed about 10% of the words) of this article in thJournal of Social and Political Psychology (JSPP), which I also blogged about here. In order to bring the ideas in that article to the attention of a wider public, we reworked it into a piece in Skeptical Inquirer, which included the following disclosure:

The JSPP article was published under a CC-BY 3.0 license, which means that there were no issues with copyright when re-using some parts of its text verbatim:

Both articles are mentioned in my CV [PDF], with the Skeptical Inquirer piece being filed under "Other publications", including a note that it was derived from the earlier peer-reviewed article in JSPP.

That's all I have to disclose on the questions of self-citation and duplicate publication. If you find something else, please feel free to call me out on it.