Author : Juan Miguel Campanario
Journal self-citations may be increased artificially to inflate a journal’s scientometric indicators. The aim of this study was to identify possible mechanisms of change in a cohort of journals that rose from the fourth (Q4) to the first quartile (Q1) over six years or less in Journal Citation Reports (JCR), and the role of journal self-citations in these changes.
A total of 51 different journals sampled from all JCR Science Citation Index (SCI) subject categories improved their rank position from Q4 in 2009 to Q1 in any year from 2010 to 2015. I identified changes in the numerator or denominator of the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) that were involved in each year-to-year transition.
The main mechanism of change was the increase in the number of citations used to compute the JIF. The effect of journal self-citations in the increase of the JIF was studied. The main conclusion is that there was no evidence of widespread JIF manipulation through the overuse of journal self-citations.