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Abstract

Editors have made requests of manuscript authors to carefully examine their reference lists and to incorporate references from the target journal. These requests seem to have become more common, as is evidenced by this and other commentaries on the issue. Journal self-citation requests may be viewed as impinging on an author’s academic freedom and could be construed as an unethical or unprofessional request. In this commentary we argue that it is not necessarily the case that all, or even many, of these requests cross the line into unprofessional or unethical behavior. There are a number of institutional and stakeholder forces that play a role in this seemingly simple editorial request. These forces arise because of the environment that is faced by editors, authors, publishers, and their audiences. We incorporate some discussion on these various motivating forces and the responses to them. Rather than rushing to alter our codes of ethical editorial conduct, we need to take a careful look at our research and publication environment to determine the reason editors would make journal self-citation requests.

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