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Journal Information
Vol. 11. Issue 3.
Pages 185-186 (July - September 2018)
Vol. 11. Issue 3.
Pages 185-186 (July - September 2018)
Letter to the Editor
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Doppelgänger research? Considerations on self-citations
¿Investigación doppelgänger? Consideraciones sobre las autocitas
Anthony Copez-Lonzoya,
Corresponding author

Corresponding author.
, Angel Paz-Jesúsb
a Universidad de San Martín de Porres, Lima, Peru
b Instituto Peruano de Orientación Psicológica, Lima, Peru
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Dear Editor,

The consistent and appropriate use of citations of the work of other researchers, or even of one's own is an indicator of rigour in a scientific article, since this practice enables one's own paper to be contextualised in time and place.1 It is even common to find citations of published papers of the same author in the references: self-citations. There are generally 2 reasons why self-citation is legitimate: the lack of studies to support one's own paper, due to the novelty of the study proposal and the researcher having completed a specific line of research.2

Thus, the citations of the scientific journals are evaluated through metrics whose results provide researchers certain position and benefits (e.g. Impact factor, Eigenfactor). However there are current impact measures that exclude self-citations and enable more appropriate evaluation.3

The bibliometric indicators show the positioning of a journal and the scope of the researchers, based on the number of citations made of the scientific papers of a researcher (not a team. Therefore it is an indicator of the influence of an author in the academic area (the h-index, for example). The h-index in particular, is vulnerable to manipulation and the abuse of self-citations is a common example.4

Overuse of self-citations for instrumental purposes is an ethical failing that is difficult to penalise or counteract. It is even used to enhance the appearance of the authors’ impact, referencing previous papers unjustifiably in order to increase their citations and using superfluous self-citations in their studies. This implies, since they are largely not specific papers, poor conduct on the part of the authors who are contaminating the scientific literature for their own ends of promotion, financial reward and the benefits of institutional representation. But these citations leave a message to less experienced and/or new researchers on how acceptable ethically questionable behaviour can be.

Therefore, drafting scientific papers is a requirement concerning the empirical value of their sources and a habit for researchers since it coincides with the concept of cumulative growth of science. This means that the accumulation of knowledge is due to new advances or reformulations of previously cited findings.5 Consequently, the abusive and indiscriminate use of self-citations is not convergent with the scientific field since it does not produce new knowledge, and even less so in the ethical sense, since it is the use of publication for self gain. It is the duty of the journals to fine-tune rigorous review processes of manuscripts to prevent this malpractice from continuing.


ACL and APJ participated in the conception and design of the study, the draft article or critical review of the intellectual content and the definitive approval of the version presented.

H.J. Kim, Y.K. Jeong, M. Song.
Content- and proximity-based author co-citation analysis using citation sentences.
J Informetr, 10 (2016), pp. 954-966
J.I. Granda-Orive, A. Alonso-Arroyo, R. Aleixandre-Benavent.
Autocitación: ¿debemos penalizarla?.
Arch Bronconeumol, 50 (2014), pp. 458
J.C. Oosthuizen, J.E. Fenton.
Alternatives to the impact factor.
Surgeon, 12 (2014), pp. 239-243
G.A. Vîiu.
A theoretical evaluation of Hirsch-type bibliometric indicators confronted with extreme self-citation.
J Informetr, 10 (2016), pp. 552-566
R. Van Norden.
The science that's never been cited.
Nature, 552 (2017), pp. 162-164

Please cite this article as: Copez-Lonzoy A, Paz-Jesús A. Doppelgänger research? Considerations on self-citations. Rev Psiquiatr Salud Ment (Barc). 2018;11:185–186.

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