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Because I Said So

A study published in PLOS Biology earlier this month that tracked self-citation among 100,000 of the most highly-cited academics found that some researchers are citing their own work at an alarmingly high rate, Quartz reports.

Analytic chemistry professor Oleg Mikhailov was named the worst offender in the study. He's received 98 citations between 1989 and 2018, more than 94 percent of which are from himself or his co-authors, according to Quartz. In total, 252 people from the database of 100,000 highly-cited researchers have received at least 50 percent of their citations from themselves or their co-authors.

The study also found that among the top 25 self-citers, all of whom received more than 68 percent of their citations in-house, only one is a woman. Further, the US shows up as the country where seld-citation happens most often, but Ukraine takes top billing as the country with the highest median percentage of self-citation in the study's database. When it comes to fields of research, Quartz says, "general physics" has the most self-citing scientists.

There may be reasons other than narcissism for some of these self-citations. Jeroen Baas, director of analytics at Elsevier and co-author of the PLOS Biology study, told Nature that papers in physics often have multiple authors, which could lead to higher rates of self-citation.

But a high percentage of citations coming from the authors themselves could suggest an attempt to artificially inflate prominence, Quartz says.