Citing review articles robs the authors of original research articles. So stop it.
September 13, 2013
Someone or other on the Twitts, or possible a blog comment, made a remark about academic citation practices that keeps eating at me.
It boils down to this.
One of the most fundamental bits of academic credit that accrues to authors are the citations of their research papers. Citations form the ballyhooed h-index (X papers with at least X cites each) go into the “Highly Cited” measure of awesomeness and are generally viewed as an important indication of your impact on science.
Consequently, when you choose to cite a review article to underline a point you are making in your own article, you are taking the credit that rightfully goes to the people who did the actual work, and handing it over to some review author.
Review authors are extracting surplus value from the people who did the actual creating. Kind of like a distributor of widgets extracts value from those people who actually made them by providing the widgets in an easy/efficient location for use. Good for them but…..
So here’s the deal. If you are citing a review only as a sort of collected works, stop doing that. I can make an exception when you are citing the review for the unique theoretical or synthetic contribution made by the review authors. Fine. But when you are just doing it because you want to make a general “..it is well established that Bunnies make it to the hedgerow in 75% of baseline time when they are given amphetamine” type of point, don’t do that. Cite some of the original authors!
If you really need to, you can cite (Jo et al, 1954, Blow et al 1985, Moe et al 2005; see Pig and Dog, 2013 for recent review).
Look at it this way. Would you rather your papers were cited directly? Or are you okay with the citations for something to which you contributed fundamentally being meta-cites of some review article?