Inflation of impact factors by journal self-citation in cardiovascular science
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Recently, several major cases of fraud in science were exposed in the Netherlands [1, 2, 3]. Unfortunately, the case of Don Poldermans from Erasmus University outlined that this scientific misbehaviour has also affected cardiovascular science,  after previous shocking cases in medicine,  including the Woo-Suk Hwang debacle on cell stem technology published by Science  (see ref.  for an extensive analysis of the case). During the editorship of Michiel J. Janse (and my associate editorship) of Cardiovascular Research (1995–2002), there were no retractions, although some investigations were initiated. However, there were five retractions over the subsequent 10 years under the co-editorship of Michael H. Piper and David Garcia-Dorado .
An increase in retractions suggests that fraud in science is a problem of increasing importance. Of course, editors and reviewers alike have neither been educated to act as data police officers, nor is it their primary goal to search for fraud...
I am grateful for the critical comments of Ruben Coronel, Michiel J. Janse, Loet Leydesdorff and Arthur Wilde.
After acceptance of this Editorial Comment, I noticed that JACC also published such ‘Highlights of the year’ in the years 2005–2011 and recently in 2013, each time primarily referring to papers published during the previous year. The total number of references in these ‘Highlights’ gradually increased from 107 in 2005 to 292 in 2012 (see above). The 2013 ‘version’ had 261 references.
Conflict of interests
- 1.Anonymous. www.science20.com/science_20/blog/ statistically_highly_unlikely_social_psychologist_dirk-smeesters_resigns-91449.
- 2.Anonymous. www.nwo.nl/nwohome.nsf/pages/NWOP_92GGC7.
- 7.Web of Science, Thomson Reuters, Philadelphia (data extraction at 14 December 2012).Google Scholar
- 11.The Editors. Circulation Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology Editor’s picks. Most read articles on arrhythmia devices (defibrillation, pacing, pacemakers, heart arrest, and resuscitation). Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol. 2012;5:e69–77.Google Scholar