Referencing plays a vital role in the writing of research papers and their peer-review. Malpractices in referencing or citation pose a significant risk to scientific research, begging the development of awareness about them among students, researchers, and scientists.
Citation by forming citation rings
This malpractice occurs when a group of authors deliberately form a group to cite each other’s papers even where they are irrelevant to the original research manuscript content. For example, renowned biophysicist Kuo-Chen Chou and founder of the Gordon Life Science Institute, in Boston, USA asked authors of dozens of papers he was editing as journal editor to cite many of his publications. Albeit, subsequently, he was barred from being an editor by publisher Elsevier (https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspa.2020.0746).
In this case, authors cite their own works in the article, which have no or weak relevancy with the article, and ignore other researchers’ work in the field. Excessive self-citation is a widespread problem and may arise from the fact that the authors know their own work better than other researchers’ published works.
These arise when the author cites a reference reporting similar findings of the article in the context of a discussion of a minor issue and ignores its major contribution. By focusing on a trivial detail, the Trojan citation obscures the true significance of the reference. Authors may use this malpractice to shield the false novelty of their research work or to satisfy reviewers’ or editors’ requests to cite relevant papers.
A Trojan citation may also emerge from (1) the authors’ unawareness of the content of the reference or (2) disputes that exist in the scientific community or among the authors on the contribution.
Citation errors include typographical violations of citation styles, excessive or redundant citations, missing citations, etc.
Quotation errors or misquotations
This occurs when claims in research manuscripts, which are supported with references, cannot be fully substantiated by the content of the cited references.
Compared to citation errors, quotation errors are far more difﬁcult and time-consuming to discover. They require reviewers to compare the information cited with the source that it came from to verify if the information is contained within that source.
Moreover, quotation errors may indicate the presence of other types of citation malpractices e.g., excessive self-citation, redundant citations. For more on quotation errors, click here.