Citation manipulation: Journal retracts paper because author boosted references to a journal he edits
Here’s the notice for “Impacts of sensor node distributions on coverage in sensor networks,” a paper first published in 2011 and cited four times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge:
This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/withdrawalpolicy).
It has been brought to the attention of the Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing that an article previously published in JPDC included a large number of references to another journal. It is the opinion of the JPDC Editor-in-Chief and the Publisher that these citations were not of direct relevance to the article and were included to manipulate the citation record.
This article is being retracted at the request of the Publisher, on the basis that it violates Elsevier’s policy regarding citation manipulation.
So why wasn’t this caught in peer review? The notice continues:
The Editors and editorial board of JPDC were not involved in facilitating this manipulation, as the references were added after acceptance, thus avoiding editorial scrutiny.
The now-retracted paper has 117 references, dozens of which are to the International Journal of Sensor Networks. That journal’s editor in chief just happens to be Yang Xiao, the third author of the now-retracted paper and a National Science Foundation-supported researcher at the University of Alabama. We’ve tried to reach him and the JPDC editor-in-chief, and will update with anything we learn.
Of course, now that journals are on the lookout for this sort of thing citation, authors may have to rely on a method employed by researchers who wanted to see how easy it would be to game Google Scholar: Create a fake researcher and upload his or her fake papers to a real university site.
Hat tip: Rolf Degen