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Scientific “SEO tricks”

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Disclaimer: I’m not a professional mathematician and no expert on scientific publishing. My opinions below are based on common sense and on opinions of people whom I trust. Update: I have carefully reworded some statements, because it looks like this topic is still hot and sensitive, there are some lawsuits in progress, etc.

I was asked some questions with regards to this post https://bbzippo.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/the-state-of-scholarly-publishing/

What exactly is wrong with this paper http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=ji_huan_he which used to be the Most Cited Publication in Mathematics?

In my opinion, it is spam, for lack of a better word. More precisely, the paper looks like its purpose was to generate self citations and citations of papers which cite the author.

Here is how the industry of “scientific citation spam” most likely worked at the time when the article was published (pure speculation). There probably existed “citation farms” that consist of 5 – 10 journals. (It is likely that “Applied Mathematics and Computation” and “Chaos, Solitons and Fractals” were among those). Those journals published papers by authors who cited themselves and one another, and the peer review requirements in those journals were rather relaxed. Since those papers were spread across the multiple journals, the self-citation index of any of those journals was not high enough for the journal to lose its impact factor. On the contrary, because of the volume of publications, those citation farms might have had higher impact factors than quality journals.

Apparently, in some countries scientists are paid for high-impact publications. So they happily do what they are paid for. Their governments are also happy because they get what they pay for: a lot of “science”. And the publisher who owns the journals (in this case it’s Elsevier http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsevier) is happy too because the impact of their journals grows.

Ji Huan He is frequently mentioned in the context of criticism of Mohamed El Naschie, the former chief editor of Chaos, Solitons and Fractals. If you google, you can find tons of controversy and dirty laundry which I don’t want to reference.


Written by bbzippo

04/03/2010 at 10:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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