Potentially coercive self-citation by peer reviewers: A cross-sectional study

Brett D. Thombs*, Alexander W. Levis, Ilya Razykov, Achyuth Syamchandra, Albert F. G. Leentjens, James L. Levenson, Mark A. Lumley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Peer reviewers sometimes request that authors cite their work, either appropriately or via coercive self-citation to highlight the reviewers' work The objective of this study was to determine in peer reviews submitted to one biomedical journal (1) the extent of peer reviewer self-citation; (2) the proportion of reviews recommending revision or acceptance versus rejection that included reviewer self-citations; and (3) the proportion of reviewer self-citations versus citations to others that included a rationale. Methods: Peer reviews for manuscripts submitted in 2012 to the Journal of Psychosomatic Research were evaluated. Data extraction was performed independently by two investigators. Results: There were 616 peer reviews (526 reviewers; 276 manuscripts), of which 444 recommended revision or acceptance and 172 rejection. Of 428 total citations, there were 122 peer reviewer self-citations (29%) and 306 citations to others' work (71%). Self-citations were more common in reviews recommending revision or acceptance (105 of 316 citations; 33%) versus rejection (17/112; 15%; p <0.001). The percentage of self-citations with no rationale (26 of 122; 21%) was higher than for citations to others' work (15 of 306; 5%; p
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015


  • Peer review
  • Self-citation
  • Journalology
  • Publishing ethics


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