Assessing a Role of Negative Citations in Science

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The series of times educational articles are cited by successive publications is among a time-honored measures used to consider erudite station and weigh educational productivity. But not all of these citations are certain ones, and a paper published this week in a biography Proceedings of a National Academy of Sciences finds that as many as one in 50 citations in a tip immunology biography were vicious in nature.

These disastrous citations competence indicate out limitations, inconsistences or flaws in prior work. The investigate found that these disastrous citations were some-more expected to impugn highly-read papers, and that a criticisms focused on specific sections of a papers. Negative citations tended to emanate from scholars who were tighten to a authors of a strange articles in educational fortify and amicable stretch – yet during slightest 150 miles divided geographically.

The research, by authors during a Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Toronto and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, competence be a initial to evenly quantify and inspect these disastrous citations. The authors wish to enhance their investigate to other disciplines, and trust their work could eventually lead to a review of how citations are used in academia.

“Given that we rest so heavily on these reference metrics as measures of quality, it’s critical to note that a vigilant of these citations isn’t homogeneous,” pronounced Alexander Oettl, an partner highbrow in Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business and one of a study’s 3 co-authors. “Criticism is unequivocally a cornerstone of a systematic enterprise, nonetheless it’s formidable to get accurate measures of a border to that critique of educational papers truly occurs. The disastrous citations unequivocally are opposite from design citations.”

The researchers, who also embody Nicola Lacetera from a University of Toronto and Christian Catalini from MIT, began with 15,731 full-text articles that had been published in a Journal of Immunology, a tip educational biography in that field. From those articles, they extracted 762,355 citations, that referred to 146,891 singular published papers.

Beginning with a primer process, they combined a set of citations that was used to sight a healthy denunciation estimate module that personal a residue of a citations as presumably design or negative. The routine identified 18,304 disastrous citations, about 2.4 percent of a sum citations studied.

“The infancy of these disastrous citations seem to take emanate with a ‘results’ and ‘discussion’ sections of a papers, so they are unequivocally not attempting to overturn theory,” pronounced Oettl. “They can be attempting to constrain results, note inconsistencies with other research, indicate out statistical flaws or scold other issues.”

In their study, a authors indicate out a relations monument of these disastrous citations, and assume that they could presumably denote a “limited, uninfluential role” for critique in scholarship – or uncover a hesitation to criticize.

“Making these disastrous citations isn’t yet cost,” Oettl noted. “There could be reputational mistreat from creation these disastrous citations, and if your critique turns out to be false, this could heavily impact your repute within a field. Without this cost, maybe we competence see some-more sincere critique appearing in a journals.”

The researchers found that while disastrous citations tended to come from scientists tighten to a slight educational topic, a critique was some-more expected to engage geographic distance.

“We see that a luck of creation a disastrous reference is much, most reduce if we are co-located with a scientist whose work is being critiqued,” Oettl said. “That potentially speaks to a amicable component, a amicable cost of critique – we don’t wish to impugn someone we competence run into on campus. Another probable interpretation is that these issues competence be aired face-to-face among scientists who are located nearby any other geographically.”

In a study, frequently-cited papers were some-more expected than less-read papers to get disastrous citations, that stands to reason, Oettl said. “These are typically some-more successful papers, so this competence have some-more to do with some-more people reading them and some-more of an inducement for scholars to take emanate with critical papers,” he explained. “Furthermore, reduction critical papers competence accept reduction scrutiny, as indicating out stipulations and shortcomings of pardonable work will not drastically change a systematic frontier.”

Replication of prior work helps safeguard a correctness of research, and critique of published studies can lead to improvement that creates scholarship some-more robust. But does a stream systematic edition complement inspire adequate discussion?

“The desperate perspective is that usually one in 50 citations is disastrous in nature, so presumably there isn’t as most discuss as we would wish for a healthy discussion,” Oettl said. “But on a other hand, by a time a vital publishing creates it into print, it has undergone a extensive volume of criticism. We now have some justification of a border to that criticism, in a form of disastrous citations, occurs within systematic manuscripts.”

The researchers chose immunology since they had entrance to a papers, that were unchanging in format. They found identical numbers of disastrous citations in a tiny set of mathematics-related papers, yet wish to enhance their work to establish if their commentary request to other disciplines. Ultimately, they wish a work could change a approach citations are used in science.

“We wanted to put brazen a methodology to assistance destiny scholars consider about how we can presumably enhance this sequence infrastructure and attract additional metadata to a citations that we make,” Oettl said. “Our paper is unequivocally descriptive, yet it identifies something that nobody has unequivocally demonstrated before: that these disastrous citations act unequivocally differently from others.”

Though a stream investigate focused on a singular discipline, immunology, “we would unequivocally like to see this work and methodology stretched to other disciplines,” Oettl said. “Ultimately, though, we caring about what purpose these disastrous citations play in helping systematic discuss and in a enrichment of a systematic frontier.”

The paper was published Oct 26 in a journal’s Early Edition.

Source: Georgia Tech