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I recently became the Editor-in-Chief for Cardiac Electrophysiology for an online access publishing company. I wanted to jump in by writing a general article to get my feet wet in their system. My topic actually reflects an accumulation of what I have done, learned, and practiced for the past 35 years. There were no references when I wrote the article but I knew many would be needed. The article contains about 6000 words and the Managing Editor told me that I would need about 20-30 references. He also said that I must use citations provided by or found in PubMed. They are partnered with PubMed. Finally, he said that at least 10 references must be from the past 10 years or the article would be summarily rejected.

Wanting to comply, I could honestly only come up with 16. Four were from the last 10 years but, given the topic "Evaluation of the Patient with Suspected Cardiac Arrhythmia", nothing has really changed in the last 10 years to make that requirement valid. I felt it was rather arbitrary. Then, I found that only 11 articles were even found in PubMed. Their citation software seems primitive in that it has no means of maintaining the proper order of the citation in the document if they don't have it or if you end up adding one in later.

I feel that my managing editor is being rather arbitrary and there is no one to provide guidance as to the workings of their system.

There is plenty of advice out there regarding "when to cite".

I have also noticed that many articles written for the company I work for or for another company known as Cureus contain citations that are absolutely irrelevant. It's as though they think tons of citations=good work!

My question is: what are the rules of the game when it comes to #citations and restricting citations to a specific timeframe (i.e. the last 10 years). And, does anyone know what citation software PubMed uses? Can't seem to reach anyone there.

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    I am going to speculate that you are the target of a scam. Jun 20 at 3:16
  • It's far from my field, but Retraction Watch's posts on Cureus have given me the impression that the journal has... issues with its review process. So irrelevant citations seem likely.
    – Anyon
    Jun 20 at 3:44
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    Does this answer your question? Cases when old references are valid? (Also see questions linked from there. That said, the demographics of the cite is light on people in medicine, so it might be that not all answers are applicable.)
    – Anyon
    Jun 20 at 3:46
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    Your question is a strong indicator that you should not be editor-in-chief. As others have mentioned, you are obviously working with a predatory publisher. I suggest that you send a resignation letter to the journal ASAP.
    – Roland
    Jun 20 at 5:30

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Let me comment on a question you have not actually asked, but that I suspect is on the mind of many who are reading your post:

Why did you actually take the Editor-in-Chief role of that journal?

The way I read your question is that you are not an experienced author of scientific publications. I suspect that to be the case because (i) you seem to be unaware of common practices of what to cite, (ii) you take the managing editor's word about what to do, rather than push back and say "I know what I'm doing, this is a well-written article and you better just take it -- I'm the editor-in-chief of the journal after all".

There is then of course the corollary that if you are an inexperience author, being the editor-in-chief will be a rough ride for you. You just don't have the experience to deal with the many publishing-related issues that come up, and I will assume that you probably also don't have the stature in the field to push back on senior authors wanting to have their way.

From this, then, one is led to the following question:

Why would a reputable journal pick you as the editor-in-chief?

Good journals take people who have long experience in both publishing and editing, and who have a reputation in the community as both good scientists and fair and ethical arbiters. It is unclear to me why a publisher would choose someone who is inexperienced as an author to be the leader of a journal. It just doesn't make sense.

What I think happened is that you have fallen prey to a predatory publisher who offered the role to you because they can't get good scientists to take the job, and you fell for it. My suggestion is pretty clear here: Walk away from it. You've got better things to do in life than being the front of a predatory journal.

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  • Wolfgang, you are correct. There is more to the story that I would like to tell you but I only have 501 characters left. Now 476. My email address is krieghmoulton@gmail.com. Contact me, as I would like to continue the conversation Jun 21 at 4:15
  • I would not have thought StatPearls was a predatory journal but, to me, it represents an effort to reduce the scientific community to mediocrity by speeding up publications compared to what happens with traditional journals. Cureus is a similar situation. This is an unusual situation that I don't think I anticipated. I was giving them the benefit of the doubt and probably shouldn't have. Jun 21 at 4:20

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