More on citation scofflaws

May 7, 2015


What if you have a habitual offender in your field?

Someone who simply refuses to cite and discuss relevant literature from ten different labs. It isn’t personal animus against a single lab at this point. 

Do you take it out on them in your own papers? Reviews? Or just keep giving them harsh reviews? Do you talk to their occasional co-authors that you know well off the record? 

7 Responses to “More on citation scofflaws”

  1. The Wackademic Says:

    Post about it on pubpeer.


  2. potnia theron Says:

    Amongst other things: mention to editor of journal. Insist (in review) that they cite earlier literature. Mention how earlier literature informs their results. If it’s an editor or AE with whom you have a working relationship, say “don’t publish till this is fixed”.

    It’s not just “harsh reviews”, it’s doing targeted, specific comments about what is wrong.


  3. Morgan Price Says:

    Is the uncited literature important for interpreting the manuscript’s results? Is the novelty overstated via citation omission? Or maybe you’re unsure how the uncited literature affects the interpretation, and the paper should discuss the issue instead of leaving the reader guessing? In all of these cases, I agree with potnia — you can make a strong case in you review. And if the manuscript is accepted anyway, maybe complain to the editor or in PubMed commons?

    On the other hand, if the uncited literature makes you feel that the introduction is kinda lame, or the paper does cite for a key idea but not (you think) the best paper with that result…I think that’s more subjective.


  4. Dave Says:

    I take the high ground and cite everything that is relevant regardless of whether they cite me or not. I like to pretend that they don’t know how to use Pubmed. Keeps me sane.


  5. jmz4gtu Says:

    My PIs (both relatively big in their field, but not BSD) have emailed editors directly when big citations are missing. They both only cared when their own papers were skipped, but they’d couch it in a list of citations that were missing or inappropriate.
    I think if you’re reviewing its definitely fair game to throw it in as a criticism.


  6. Pinko Punko Says:

    I think it is sort of a bummer. I feel like I point out missed citations a lot more in paper reviews than people do with our manuscripts. I know we miss some things sometimes, but we try pretty hard. I get tired of doing the work for the other labs. Recent case is a just published paper in eLife where paper discovered something that has 30 years worth of literature. It was missed because the group was sort of in a new area, but they just didn’t know the background.


  7. yoyo Says:

    Currently aware of one egregious case. They literally said in the paper and talks “we are the first to show X” when multiple other papers already showed X, both recently and long ago. In this case we know from the source that they are aware of the relevant lit so they are choosing not to cite it in order to make their results appear novel. Everyone is just talking about them behind their backs and how ridiculous it is that no one said anything in review. I don’t think the PI gives a damn. I feel somewhat sorry for the trainees involved as it’s giving everyone a bad rep.


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