There is a professor X who publishes as many as 20-30 research articles (usually in journals) every year. It is quite obvious that these are the outcomes of his big lab and multiple collaborations.

I usually follow his works. However, his publication surprises me in terms of the number of his own published works he cites in each paper. For example, in one of his latest paper, there were 145 references out of which 70-80 were his own publications. Many of the cited references are not so related to the latest published work and cited like this ([1,7,8-10,12-18]).

Moreover, it should be noted that he has been the top-cited researcher in his field as per Thomson Reuters.

My questions are:

  • Why might he be doing it? (Is it just to increase [self-]citation?)
  • If this is the case, then the claim that he is the 'top' cited researcher does not hold. Isn't it?
  • 8
    "Why might he be doing it?": to boost his publication indexes, indeed ;-) Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 12:51
  • 5
    "Why might he be doing it?" - he (or his group) knows his work (or that of the other group members) best? Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 13:09
  • 1
    Each of the team members would benefit from the extra citation, even after they left the group. It would be easier for them to claim a higher number of citations.
    – user21264
    Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 13:53
  • 1
    Plus if he's done previous ground breaking work in the field and he's still working in the same field, chances are that his works are the most commonly cited anyway. Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 14:14
  • 7
    Beyond his own citation count, it's pretty common and expected that a researcher's future work is going to depend on their past work. It would be expected that any given paper would heavily cite the author's previous work.
    – David
    Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 14:15

1 Answer 1


While there can be good reasons to self-cite, and sometimes self-cite significantly, if many of the self-citations are not relevant, then it's pretty clear the citations are there in order to inflate citation metrics.

The appropriate response is to pay less attention to citation metrics. After all, by those sorts of metrics King Abdulaziz University is ranked above MIT in mathematics.

  • Thank you very much for the link. I couldn't believe the ranking of KAU at 7. But, I learned a lot of insights into this fishy game.
    – Coder
    Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 9:13

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