Self-citation in research. What is its acceptable threshold?

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Earlier in the blog, we talked about the uniqueness of scientific article, and how important it is to observe the permissible percentage of originality. In this article, we will continue the topic and talk about the use of self-citation in research papers, what is its acceptable threshold, is it considered self-plagiarism to mention your previous works, and is this beyond the scope of scientific ethics?

Each scientific article should be unique (at least 85%), bring new discoveries and value to the scientific community. Based on the number of references in the bibliographic list, citation indicators are calculated. If the rate of plagiarism is higher than the norm, the article will not even be submitted for review. You will be asked to correct it, otherwise its publication will be completely refused. Apart from self-citation, there are other types of citation that the scientist adheres to while writing the article:           

There is also a process of copyright infringement in the form of plagiarism and self-plagiarism

Self-citation is a type of citation, the author's appeal to their previous articles by mentioning rather large fragments of them. The scientist introduces their previous research and shows readers a broader picture of their study. Quotes should be formed with consideration of all the layout standards, their percentage should not exceed the established norm, which we will talk about below. Considering it from the standpoint of scientific ethics, the threshold for self-citation is rather conditional. These questions require painstaking analysis and approach. Each area of study, like any top-rated journal, prescribes its own limitations in self-citation. During indexing, this type of mention is not considered in the Web of Science and Scopus, as in the VAK and the RSCI.    

Authors often substitute self-plagiarism by self-citation in their articles. What is the difference between them? 

References to previous articles are necessary to illuminate and prove a scientific idea, making an emphasis on previous research. The goal of self-plagiarism is to artificially increase the level of citation by means of references to previous articles, which is absolutely not supported by the scientific community and can lead to a refusal to publish, as well as to lower the author's rating and affect the career decline. It is necessary to distinguish this fine line and adhere to it, formalising research in scientometric journals that set clear requirements for all publications. If they are not taken into account, references to the said previous articles will be considered incorrect.  

If past experience is any guide, it is very difficult to do without self-citation. It is hard not to consider your previous work, because it can be analysis, comparison of results or continuation of previous studies. If a group of authors takes part in a scientific experiment, then, accordingly, there will be references to published works and cross-references to each other.   

What else does every scientist need to know when using self-citation in their article?  

Percentage of self-citation or citation allowed

If the author cites their own articles, this also counts towards the assessment of their rating. Adhering to the norms of scientific ethics, the percentage of self-citation should not exceed 10-12% (links to publications of the author of the article and links to articles of other scientists in this journal). Indicators with a higher percentage of references to their articles raise many suspicions regarding the professionalism of the scientist and their inattention to the studies of other authors.    

Correct citing layout

If you just transfer a reference from one publication to another, but do not arrange it in the right way and do not put a reference to the published article in the list, this will be considered self-plagiarism, which includes the characteristics of plagiarism, which implies copying the text.   

Narrow topic specificity

Mentioning one's articles is inevitable if a scientist is working on a unique topic and no one else is exploring it. Therefore, in any case, they will have to refer to their previous discoveries. This narrow specificity of the scientific subject implies that other scientists are likely to refer to it very little, as they work in their highly specialised fields. These actions are necessary in order not to describe an already tested method anew. But one needs to make sure that self-citation does not go beyond the acceptable norm.  

The relevance of the study and its benefits

Scientific article should contain relevant ideas, information and be valuable not only to its author, but also to the scientific community. Reviewers of journals included in the WoS and Scopus databases do not support articles that often mention already known facts. They are interested in unique discoveries, new ideas and methods in science. The editorial board may simply refuse to review and further publish the article, which will definitely not increase the authority of the scientist in scientific circles.  

Termination of indexing in a scientometric database

Scopus annually evaluates journals and scientists, analysing their activities using the data analysis tool "Radar". If the assessment identifies violators, showing an atypical increase in the number of scientific papers, self-citation, etc., this may lead to the fact that the journal or scientist will be no longer indexed in the database.     

Using this information in the preparation of a scientific article for publication, each scientist can rest assured that their article will undergo the obligatory peer review, will be successfully published and indexed in journals included in the largest scientometric databases in the world. Scientific Publications – Publ.Science helps scientists comply with publication ethics, consider all criteria for citation, and maximise the uniqueness of their article. By collaborating with this team of professionals, a researcher can be confident that their article will be guaranteed to be published in an international journal indexed in the Scopus or Web of Science database. If you have any questions, contact us, and we will be happy to answer.  

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