• CORRESPONDENCE

Citation doping not for Italy’s elites

Factors other than citation doping could have contributed to the recent rise in the number of Italians among the 100,000 most highly cited scientists (see Nature http://doi.org/dcgj; 2019).

Of the 100,000 most highly cited scientists in the database compiled by John Ioannidis et al. (PLoS Biol. http://doi.org/gf6ckr; 2019), including some 2,000 Italians, we found that the proportion using self-citation to boost their research impact was probably only 2% (see P. D’Antuono and M. Ciavarella Preprint at https://arxiv.org/abs/1910.02948v1; 2019). The practice seems to be more common among early-career scientists who are otherwise less frequently cited.

ANVUR, the Italian agency for research evaluation (go.nature.com/2kwu5jj), should in our view exclude self-citations from future evaluations, to avoid this ‘noise’.

We consider that the jump in the number of Italians in the 100,000 most highly cited researchers is a symptom of the overall health of the Italian research system. It underscores the positive effect of introducing ANVUR in 2006.

Nature 574, 333 (2019)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-019-03119-w

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