Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Publication of articles in so called “reputed” journals and achieving high citation counts for the publications are becoming increasingly important in establishing the scientific achievements of individual scholars and institutions. Given that a journal’s reputation is based predominantly on the extent to which its articles are cited, some editors, reviewers, and journal publishers tend to overtly request references to their articles or journals. This is justifiably found unethical by many of us. However, we shall argue that such explicit requests for referencing is only the tip of the iceberg. There is a widespread, covert understanding among potential authors that unless they cite work of editors and/or have references to the journal where one is submitting a manuscript, the probability of getting the paper accepted for publication may suffer. This consideration is a much more powerful influence than the overt requests some may have experienced as authors. Overt, as well as covert, activities aimed at bumping up individual and journal citations is a dysfunctional result of an increasingly competitive scholarly environment, where the value of success is high, and failure is a very unpleasant option. In the short run, making the community aware of dysfunctional behaviors with respect to citations might help counteract the most blatant exertion of power. However, addressing the more covert use of power requires a more in depth look at ourselves and the way we conduct and assess scholarship. In the long run, the IS field may even need to seriously assess the extent to which our research efforts serve standards primarily internal to our field (similar to rites of other tribes) rather than delivering value to society.