Over at The Scientist, Christian Specht says that, "just like genetic information, citations can accumulate heritable mutations." Wrong citations, Specht writes, "errors in the sequence of letters and numbers that make up the correct citation, including the name of the author or journal, the volume and page numbers or the year of publication" can be incorporated and "can be described in genetic terms and classified as deletions, insertions, point mutations and inversions of characters, or as complete nonsense mutations." In highly cited papers, incorrect citations are "unavoidable" over time, Specht says. However, he suggests that "in the future the number of wrong citations can be minimized by using reference software tools — provided that the database entries are correct in the first place."
'Point,' 'Nonsense,' and Other Citation Mutations
Sep 20, 2010