Editor resigns from two journals after “considerable” citation boosting attempts

An editor at two European Geosciences Union journals has resigned following revelations that he or she engaged in citation manipulation — boosting citations to his or her own papers and associated journals.

Here’s a letter announcing the news, signed by EGU publication committee chair Hubert Savenije, that ran in several EGU journals earlier this week:

Recently we have become aware of a case of scientific malpractice by an editor of two of our journals (SOIL and SE [Solid Earth]) who used the position as editor and reviewer to disproportionately promote citations to personal papers and associated journals. According to our “Publication ethics”, detailed on the “About” tab of all our journals, such “citation manipulation” is considered a scientific malpractice. After concerns expressed by the executive editors, Copernicus looked into the scale of the manipulation and concluded that it was considerable. EGU, Copernicus and the executive editors of the journals decided that prompt action should be taken. The editor concerned has stepped down and the community of the affected journals will be informed of the situation.

We would like to take this opportunity to stress again that EGU and Copernicus adhere to strict publication ethics and we urge editors, referees, and authors to familiarize themselves with our policies and to strictly adhere to the principles of our publication ethics.

Savenije declined to name the editor, saying that the EGU has decided not to make the name of the editor public, because his or her blameless co-authors would be unfairly implicated, and because “we are watchful and that we used this event to stress our publication ethics.” Other journals where the editor serves have been notified, he said.

We have been trying to establish the editor’s identity, but have not been able to confirm it. We’d welcome help from readers, with the caveat that we can’t publish speculative comments.  The best way to send evidence is to retractionwatchteam@gmail.com.

It’s unclear how common citation-stacking is; we’ve written about the issue in our STAT column. Last year, Thomson Reuters, now part of Clarivate Analytics, delisted two journals for citation stacking, and 16 for excessive self-citation.

Hat tip: Yavor Kamer

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3 thoughts on “Editor resigns from two journals after “considerable” citation boosting attempts”

  1. Comparing search engine cache of SOIL editorial board page dated Feb 4th to the current one reveals only one change – one person is missing. SE editorial board cached page is from the 13th and shows the same persons as the current one; however, the person removed from SOIL editorial board page was SE editor at least in 2016 (the past editors can be seen when you browse past volumes).

  2. This post seems to be one that could go under the “doing the right thing.” For the EGU parent society, that is, not the editor. From the report, EGU got wind of dodgy behavior on the part of one of their editors, investigated, took appropriate action, and then disclosed the incident to their readers.

    It would also seem that listing the name of the editor that vanished from the SOIL editorial between February 4 and February 13th, and their associated papers would be non-speculative.

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