Citation rings

Or how to cheat effectively (and in open). I have long spoken out about the ills of “academic publishing” and the poor reflection of “research-metrics”. Lab results are fudged (not always, though). Same data requires increasingly creative ways to interpret. Scientific experiments cannot be replicated (“replication crisis”). The peer review system is broken. Article Processing Charges (APC) is the new “revenue source”. The subscriptions are going up and up.

This is the immediate mind recall, and I haven’t even begun to research on this. Here’s an interesting write up on how the New York Review of Books has authors and contributors reviewing each other’s books and switching roles.

Is it really the “New York Review of Each Other’s Books”?

You can see that the numbers are lower—but not crazily so. You find that on average 20% of NYRB book reviews have reviewed the books of people who contributed in the ten years prior to the reviews, meanwhile the number only goes down to 10% when you limit yourself to looking at books by contributors of the past year. Ultimately you find that in any given time about 14% of articles have been written by people who have their own books reviewed within six months of writing for the NYRB. That number goes up to 25% within a year and 40% within two years.

The author calls this contributor-author overlap. As again, I call it a publication mafia. It is incredibly useful to join it.

Further, the perception that NYRB has been a “review of each other’s books” is especially validated if you consider the data at issue-level, which is after all how the magazine is consumed. There have been 160 issues (about 1 in 7) in which 50% or more articles represented instances of contributor-author overlap in the one-year period. That goes up to 638 issues (1 in 2) when you look at the two-year period.

There’s no transparency and remains a smoke screen of “credibility”.

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