I have received back an article asking for major revisions. As far as I know, the journal is a reputable one. The referee stated that the introduction is 'very short and poor' and that the authors should 'improve the introduction using recent theoretical developments in this field'. The referee then suggests that I 'can add' a list of seven articles to 'enrich the introductory section'.

I notice that for all of these articles there are one or two names which keep recurring and in fact one author appears on all of them. Added to this, it seems like some of the journals in question are quite obscure (at least I have never heard of them).

Later on, the referee suggests another three references: again, a certain name appears on all of these and all of these three articles appear in obscure MDPI journals.

I don't mind adding a few references, it just seems like something strange is going on when the referee wants me to add ten references some of which (or probably if I am honest all of which) they are co-authors on and some of which appear in obscure journals which might struggle to attract citations.

Is there something I can do about this? Could I perhaps revise the article without adding all the references and then request to the editor that the paper be re-reviewed using a different referee? I will mention that the papers are on-topic obviously. But they just describe a type of system which is in the same class as the system which I consider.

Edit: I have just looked up the profile of the person who is probably the referee and he seems to be a professor at an obscure university in Egypt. He has below 1000 citations on Google Scholar on many papers on almost the same subject. Half of these were obtained in 2022, around 100 in 2021, below 100 in 2020, and then below 50 every year prior to that.

  • 4
    Once, a big name editor asked me to cite 30 of his papers! Similar to your case, these 30 papers have one name in common. You have to wonder how he got his 'big name'. Nov 16, 2022 at 21:04
  • 2
    You didn't mention whether the papers were on topic, only how obscure the journals are. Nov 16, 2022 at 21:13
  • 2
    Referees don't make decisions about papers. They only suggest, but if you have good reasons you can ignore referee comments and explain these reasons to the editor (who is the one making decisions). Nov 17, 2022 at 3:41
  • 1
    You should make the editor aware of this. It is scientific misconduct to try to boost your citation score like this. You can't know if that is the case here (because the reviewer is anonymous) but the editor can check and handle it accordingly.
    – user9482
    Nov 17, 2022 at 11:40


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