The Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy

Automated citation recommendation tools encourage questionable citations

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  • Serge Pascal Johannes M Horbach
  • Freek Oude Maatman, Radboud University Nijmegen, University of Groningen
  • ,
  • Willem Halffman, Radboud University Nijmegen
  • ,
  • Wytske Hepkema, Radboud University Nijmegen
Citing practices have long been at the heart of scientific reporting, playing both socially and epistemically important functions in science. While such practices have been relatively stable over time, recent attempts to develop automated citation recommendation tools have the potential to drastically impact citing practices. We claim that, even though such tools may come with tempting advantages, their development and implementation should be conducted with caution. Describing the role of citations in science’s current publishing and social reward structures, we argue that automated citation tools encourage questionable citing practices. More specifically, we describe how such tools may lead to an increase in: perfunctory citation and sloppy argumentation; affirmation biases; and Matthew effects. In addition, a lack of transparency of the tools’ underlying algorithmic structure renders their usage problematic. Hence, we urge that the consequences of citation recommendation tools should at least be understood and assessed before any attempts to implementation or broad distribution are undertaken.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch Evaluation
Pages (from-to)321-325
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2022

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