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Gambling with somebody’s reputation (Part 4): The story behind the story

Today, The Times Higher published a story about me (‘Mark Griffiths – the professor who publishes a paper every two days’) written by the journalist Jack Grove. Mr. Grove has had contact with me by both email and telephone over the past few months and I have given him full answers to every question he has asked me. Mr. Grove originally contacted me in July after Professor Dorothy Bishop had written a blog about me. I published a couple of blogs responding to both the blog by Prof. Bishop and my responses to Mr. Groves’ earlier enquiries. Mr. Groves was very interested in the number of papers I had published this year and he appeared to be questioning to what extent I had co-authored all the papers published this year. Straight after him contacting me, I emailed every co-author I had published with this year and within 24 hours, almost all of them had emailed Mr. Grove back outlining the contributions I had made to all the papers I had co-authored. On July 21, Mr. Grove emailed me and said:

“Dear Mark. Sorry for not contacting you yesterday – I am considering how to proceed with this story given the testimonials that I have received from your collaborators, and the responses provided to Professor Bishop from the journal editors whom I also contacted and your blog. As such, I’m putting things on hold for now. As many of your more senior collaborators stated, your publication rate is unusually high and does raise questions about these papers so you can see why I was interested to find out more. The responses were very informative in other ways too.”

Within minutes of receiving this email, I responded and said:

“Hi Jack. As I said, I was very happy to talk to you and very happy to go through how I do what I do. I have done nothing wrong. If you want to revisit the story, then feel free to get in touch”

Mr. Grove got in touch with me again towards the send of September, and on late afternoon September 29, I had a 45-minute conversation covering many differing aspects of my research and publishing strategies. I began the interview by asking what the focus of Mr. Grove’s was going to be and I made it very clear that I had concerns that the planned article was going to be a “hatchet job” on me. Mr. Grove said that was not his intention and that he genuinely wanted to know how I do what I do. We talked both on and off the record, and I was nothing but honest and gave straight answers to straight questions. The conversation included my day-to-day writing and editing routines, my strategies for writing and publishing, who I worked with, how I worked with them, my internal and external collaborators, publishing with students (including undergraduates, and in particular my collaborations with Md. Abdullah Mamun, and how our research collaboration began), “gift authorship” (something I had never heard of before), my affiliations (I said my only affiliation was NTU but Mr. Grove said I had multiple affiliations on Scopus and asked whether this was a deliberate ploy to help NTU up the world league table of university rankings), and my relationship with the gambling industry (Mr. Grove said he had talked to others in my field and said that I “gave the gambling industry an easy ride”).

Straight after the interview, I sent Mr. Grove some further emails clarifying some of the things I had said. The first email (sent at 5.30pm, September 29) said:

“Hi Jack. You should read this very short article that I wrote on gambling funding which briefly outlines my position on the issue.”

Attached to my email was a copy of: Griffiths, M.D. & Auer, M. (2015). Research funding in gambling studies: Some further observations. International Gambling Studies, 15, 15-19). The second one I sent was at 6.35pm and said:

“Hi Jack. You asked me in our phone call about my contributions to paper and specifically asked me about publishing with Md. Abdullah Mamun. Attached is the first paper I worked on with him and these are three versions I worked on before submission. There was then a fourth version (also attached) that addressed the reviewers’ comments and was eventually published in Psychiatry Research. I also attach the response letter that I wrote. I would draw your attention to Version 1 (the first file attached) as this gives you a very clear idea of my typical input to papers as it goes way beyond “editing” that you were trying to suggest earlier on. I will repeat what I said verbally. My name only appears on those papers where I have made an intellectual contribution. You also appeared to suggest that it is OK in the sciences for there to be over 2000 authors on a paper but not in the social sciences. I don’t think that’s OK at all. I’m still not sure why you think what I do is somehow suspect compared to the 500+ academics in the UK that have published more papers than me”.

Mr. Grove replied to me the next day (September 30, 11.15am) and said:

“Thanks Mark. This is useful to see the process that is used – it will do my best to communicate this model of critical revision that you describe. While it is certainly time-consuming and important for the paper, the concern is that this input is generally at a late stage in the research process – whereas social science scholars, in particular, are generally involved across the entire lifespan of a piece of a study – hence why most scholars in these disciplines struggle to publish more than one or two pieces a year. Thanks for speaking to me yesterday – I am certainly not aiming at a hatchet job, as you suggest. Your method, however, is fairly unusual and it may be helpful to explain it – as, from the outside, many might assume you’re benefiting from the ‘gift authorship’ practices seen in the sciences, which I’ve examined and been critical of in my previous stories…PS, I have attached a screenshot from Scopus – which seemed to suggest various affiliations beyond NTU, but it seems this is more to do with a clerical error on behalf of publishers. However, I thought it best to raise the issue – which, you were, understandably perplexed by”.

I read Mr. Grove’s email after coming out of a very long meeting that I had been in that day (30 September, 2:02pm). I responded by saying:

“Hi Jack. Sorry for not responding sooner but I have been in meetings since 10am this morning. For the record I only have only had one affiliation since October 1, 1995 – Nottingham Trent University. Any other affiliations attributed to me on any database is someone else’s mistake not mine. Your suggestion that I was somehow systematically manipulating the situation with regards to affiliations to increase Nottingham Trent University’s position in the world league tables are (in my opinion) totally unfounded and not something had ever even entered my thoughts until you mentioned it to me. I hope my article on gambling funding explain my position on these matters. I also want to counter your proposition that I “give the gambling industry an easy ride” (which is what I wrote down in my notes of yesterday’s chat). I will send to you in a different email dozens of papers published over the past few years which show that is simply untrue and unfounded.

I have never heard of the term ‘gift authorship’ and totally dispute the idea that such publications are a ‘gift’ (simply based on the sheer amount of work I have to do to get them into a publishable state). I estimate that less than 2% of all the refereed papers I have ever published come from researchers sending me papers to contribute to. As I said yesterday, I get sent such papers every week and the overwhelming majority are returned with my comments highlighting why I am not taking them up on their offer. The overwhelming majority of my papers are co-written with (i) my PhD students (I have had 44 to date), (ii) MSc/BSc project students that I have supervised, and (iii) papers from joint research projects with my international colleagues”

Straight after sending that email, I sent another email (at 2:08pm) in which I sent Mr. Grove some confidential material demonstrating the kind of emails I get sent regarding contributing papers and how I declined these. At 2.18pm, I sent another email with 42 of my recent papers on gambling (2018-2020). I wrote:

“Hi Jack. Please find attached a selection of my recent papers on gambling. The suggestion that I give the industry an easy ride is clearly not the case based on the papers attached. I have loads more that I am happy to send.”

Finally, Mr. Grove got in touch with me again on October 9 asking if he could interview me again about some things he forgot to ask me in our first conversation. I replied and said I was happy to speak to him the next day. At 4.21pm (October 9) I also emailed Mr. Grove with responses to further things he wanted to ask me about. I copied his questions into an email and gave my responses. Here are his questions and my unedited responses.

JG: Just a word to say I’ve been slightly sidetracked by other things so the interview won’t out until next week at the earliest. Thanks for speaking me – the one question that I didn’t have chance to ask you was about citations and your h-index.

MG: Happy to talk about this but for the record these are secondary to my work and simply a by-product of my passion for research.

JG: I think the reason why Dorothy Bishop chose to write about you was that she is interested in what she has described as ‘citation circles’, in which groups of researchers loosely connected cite each other’s work a lot. 

MG: I’ve never heard of a ‘citation circle’ and it’s not something I personally engage in or have ever engaged in. I’ve publicly outlined my strategies for increasing citations (attached) [I attached the following article to my email: Griffiths, M.D. (2015). How to improve your citation count. Psy-PAG Quarterly, 96, 23-24].

JG: I don’t know if this is true for you and your colleagues, but I did notice that you cite your own work quite a lot (perhaps unsurprisingly if you have 1,500 publications), so I wondered if you could comment on these two issues. 

MG: I cite my own work where appropriate and to be honest I can’t think of anyone that I know who doesn’t. However, self-citation does not count on Scopus

JG: Also, are your levels of self-citation to be expected, particularly when you work in a fairly niche area? 

MG: Since when is behavioural addiction a niche area? Most of my departmental colleagues ask me how they can move into a more mainstream area like mine.

JG: Can I also ask why you choose to publish a lot in certain publications. I don’t know the field of psychology that well but it seems there are more prestigious outlets, with a higher h-index, than the journals you tend to favour (which are entirely legitimate and have a decent h-index). 

MG: I publish my work in the journals which are the most read in my field including many interdisciplinary journals because many of my papers have no psychology in them at all. You clearly have no idea about my areas of research interest. I publish in the top journals in my field. You seem to be focusing on the number of papers in specific journals rather than the percentage of papers I publish in specific journals as a percentage of my total outputs.

JG: An academic with your h-index would normally be expected to publish regularly in the very top journals, so I’d be interested to know why you’ve gone for the more niche gambling journals than those that are more widely read and cited.

MG: I do publish regularly in the top journals in my field as well as those that I know are most read by researchers in my field. I told you very explicitly in a previous interview that I am a disseminator and that I want my work to be read and applied. I told you that one of the proudest moments in my career was getting my first full page ‘by line’ in The Sun – and even published about this in a blog for the British Psychological Society in 2011 (attached). In the last REF, my research was singled out as being of 4* quality and world-leading. REF impact has little to do with publishing in a particular journal – it is based on how your research is used in the real world.

Mr. Grove then said that he would ring me the next day but he didn’t. His article was published today. However, Mr. Grove was true to his word. He didn’t do a “hatchet job” on me and the things I discussed ‘off the record’ remained so. For that I must thank him most sincerely.

Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Behavioural Addiction, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Griffiths, M.D. (2009). Gambling research and the search for a sustainable funding infrastructure. Gambling Research, 21(1), 28-32.

Griffiths, M.D. (2011). My Pride. British Psychological Society Research Digest, February 9. Located at: http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.com/2011/02/mark-griffiths-my-pride.html

Griffiths, M.D. (2015). How to improve your citation count. Psy-PAG Quarterly, 96, 23-24.

Griffiths, M.D. & Auer, M. (2015). Research funding in gambling studies: Some further observations. International Gambling Studies, 15, 15-19.

Gambling with someone’s reputation (Part 2)

Yesterday I published a short blog in response to Dorothy Bishop’s blog who questioned some of the editorial practices of journals that I regularly published in. As a consequence of Dorothy Bishop’s blog, I was contacted by Jack Grove, a journalist at the Times Higher Education on late Friday afternoon (July 17). Mr. Grove wrote:

“I am a journalist in London who writes on research integrity issues. I’m following up a recent blog by an Oxford University professor who has called attention to what sees as questionable publication practices in some of the journals that you regularly write in, namely to do with your research output… The blog raises some interesting questions about your relationship with these journals as so much of your work appears in them. While I can see that they are relevant to your research area, I’m sure you can appreciate why this pattern of publication is concerning.

Professor Bishop also mentions your publication rate which does seem rather astonishing. Looking at your personal web page it seems you have published some 113 articles so far this year – which is more than one every two days, and more than 1,700 pieces in your career so far, which raises some questions about how much input you are actually having on these co-authored publications. This has been raised a few times before, with some critics saying that, with self-citation, it’s a handy way to inflate your h-index. If you could respond to these concerns, I would be much obliged as I intend to write something about this next week”

Within five minutes of receiving the email I wrote back to Mr. Grove:

“I would be delighted to talk to you and I can send you every draft of every single article I have co-written this year (and most years over the last decade) because I keep every version of every paper with every track change I have ever made. I’ve done this for years for eventualities like this because some individuals simply don’t believe that I have co-authored all the papers I have published. Attached is the response that has been sent to Dr. Bishop by the Journal of Behavioral Addiction. I’m not sure how other journals are going to respond but I would imagine it would be along the same lines as this. Happy to talk now, over the weekend, or at you convenience. My home number is [supplied my number]. I would be delighted to talk to you about how I do what I do. I have contributed to every single paper I have ever published and can prove it”.

Mr. Grove emailed back to say he would like to chat to me Monday afternoon (July 20). On the morning of July 20, I emailed Mr. Grove to ask him what time he would like to speak to me that afternoon. He didn’t reply and he didn’t ring me that afternoon. In the meantime, on Friday evening (July 17, 2020), I emailed all the people that I have published with this year and wrote:

“Today I have been approached by a journalist (Jack Grove) at the Times Higher Education here in the UK about all the articles I have co-authored and published this year so far (over 100) – see his email below. His email claims that the number of papers I have co-published this year “raises some questions about how much input you are actually having on these co-authored publications”. I would be very grateful if you could confirm to Jack that my co-authorships on our papers were as a direct result of intellectually and physically writing and contributing to each of the papers I have co-published with you. His email appears to be implying that my name is just being put on papers without any contribution from me which I find very hurtful and is questioning my integrity. As you probably all know, I keep every version of every paper that I contribute to and am happy to share these with the journalist. I’m sorry to have to do this but I would be very grateful if you could simply confirm that I materially contributed to the publication(s) we co-authored. Please don’t reply to everyone, just to the journalist and myself will suffice”.

Since writing my email, almost all the people I contacted have emailed Mr. Grove. Here are some excerpts of the emails that Mr. Grove has received. They demonstrate that I materially and intellectually contributed to every paper I have co-authored and published this year.

Xavi Carbonell (Spain)

“I have been working with Mark in the last few years. I am in debt with him as are some of my doctoral students (Marta Beranuy, Alexandra Rodríguez and Héctor Fuster). Mark has been helping a lot, been always available and making substantial contributions to our research and to the papers. Mark also was the tutor of three-month international research stays of Marta Beranuy and Alexandra Rodríguez and one short research stay of myself. I could provide you with some of the manuscripts that we have been working on where you can see (visible changes in the word document) the suggestions and changes provided by Mark in the preliminary versions of the manuscript. Mark is a tireless and efficient worker and I am very proud to know him and very grateful to him”.

Vasileios Stavropoulos (Australia)

“In all the papers that we have worked together [Mark Griffiths] had significant intellectual contribution in at least three different ways: (i) contribution to the research idea conception, before data collection/research implementation, (ii) interpretation of the findings, and (iii) review and final edit of the final document submitted. The reason that I have initially aimed to collaborate with [him 4 years ago] had to do with his international reputation and my desire to gain visibility for my work.  The reasons that I now continue working with him are: (a) his thoroughness; (b) his speed in delivering outcome; (c) his collegiality; and (d) his honesty. I can also confirm that in every single paper we have worked together, the title page of the initial submission to the journal has always included the specific authors’ contributions.  I can also provide all his thoroughly edited (with track changes) documents, and emails for every research submission we have had together”.

Mustafa Savci (Turkey)

“Dr. Griffiths made unique contributions to my studies. In the papers we published, [his] contribution was not less than mine. I have always appreciated [his] contributions in papers we co-author. I want you to know that I have witnessed that the allegations were unfounded”.

William Van Gordon (UK)

“Sorry to hear about these allegations. [Dr. Griffiths] certainly made meaningful and material contributions to papers that we wrote together”.

Pawel Atroszko (Poland)

“I write in relation to your e-mail to Prof. Mark D. Griffiths concerning his prolific academic output in terms of published scientific papers, and doubts raised by Professor Bishop’s piece. Since 2015, I have written several papers with Prof. Mark D. Griffiths…I would like to confirm that his co-authorships on our papers were as a direct result of intellectually and physically writing and contributing to each of the papers we have co-published. I believe the rate of publishing of Prof. Griffiths is a reflection of his extraordinary work ethic and expertise in the field of behavioral addictions. He can be considered among the most important researchers worldwide in establishing the field in recent decades and dynamically moving it forward, and has been publishing on the issues related to compulsive behaviors (to my knowledge) since the late 1980s when the field of behavioral addictions was still virtually non-existent. From this point of view, he embodies the history of this field and has an unparalleled overview of its development, and deep understanding of its issues. Taking into account my knowledge of the behavioral addictions field and my experiences of collaborating with Prof. Griffiths, I would conclude that his expertise matched with inexhaustible engagement in moving the field forward in development, as well as openness and willingness to collaborate best explain his prolific publishing. In relation to Professor Bishop’s piece, she wrote on his blog: ‘Neither IJMHA nor JBA publishes the dates of submission and acceptance of articles, and so it is not possible to evaluate this concern’. I would like to point that this statement is not true and all of my papers with Prof. Mark D. Griffiths published in JBA from the first one in 2015 to the most recent one were peer reviewed, have submission dates and acceptance dates printed on the first page of the paper, and Prof. Griffiths has actively participated in the process of correcting papers after suggestions of the reviewers. In the case of all of my papers with Prof. Griffiths, he was engaged in the process of writing them from clarification of the initial idea till final corrections after reviews”.

Daria Kuss (UK)

“Professor Mark Griffiths is a leader in the field of behavioural addictions due to his unmatched set of skills, his ability to communicate ideas clearly and flexibly to different audiences, his unparalleled work ethic and dedication. With his body of work and grasp of novel ideas, he has inspired numerous researchers across the world, including myself.  Mark and I have co-authored dozens of papers over the last decade, including peer-reviewed publications, various reports, papers in the trade press and the news media, book chapters and a book. He has had a significant intellectual contribution to all of our co-authored publications, including developing the original ideas, writing the papers, editing them across multiple iterations, and revising them following reviewers’ and editors’ comments. He has furthermore contributed his invaluable expertise to the publication process of our co-authored work, including evaluations of particular journals, and supporting the work’s impact and visibility across various channels.  Mark has always been a thoughtful, honest and responsive mentor whose expertise, loyalty and integrity are second to none. I am very grateful for his indispensable contributions and his steadfast mentorship across the many years we have had the pleasure to work together”

Marta Beranuy Fargues (Spain)

“I am writing to confirm that [Dr. Griffiths] made a considerable contribution to the article that we have published together this year”.

Doris Malischnig (Austria)

“I can only say that there is no one who contributed so much to the published articles and from whom I have learned more than from him. He actively contributed to every paper, rewrote, supplemented, improved, and after the submission helped me to answer the questions of the reviewers correctly. For example for our paper, which was published in January (2020), I have more than 100 emails that we exchanged. This paper has been radically revised twice, it took us 3 years to get the paper published!! He accompanied the process so intensively, answered questions and suggested and supplemented evaluations, and motivated me to keep to it. I even asked him to be the first author on the paper. His input was significantly larger than mine. He refused! Without Mark Griffiths, neither the scientific knowledge nor the practical impact would be where they are today. For that he would actually have to be knighted. He works day and night, namely to help us and science that the world looks better for problem gamblers or other addicts and their families. If you need evidence, I have saved all emails and his related work on the articles we published together, because it helps me to learn from them afterwards”.

Supakyada Sapthiang (UK)

“I’m surprised to see this blog is by an Oxford professor as its highly speculative. You made substantial intellectual contributions to my papers for which I am very grateful”

Alexandra Torres-Roriguez (Spain)

I would confirm that all of authorships of Dr. Mark Griffiths in our papers were correct. Dr. Mark was my thesis co-director, and I attended NTU when I was doing my International PhD. We did more than ten versions regarding the papers. Not only that, he taught me important aspects of the publications, he provided complete sections, he made substantial and key contributions, and he stayed with me throughout the process involved. [Dr. Griffiths] has been one of my best and most dedicated teachers, from whom I have learned a lot. Always willing to help me kindly with my thesis and with anything related to my research career”

Christian Montag (Germany)

“I can tell you my experience from one paper, I published this week with Dr. Mark Griffiths [in ‘Frontiers in Psychology’] Dr. Cornelia Sindermann and I led with this paper, but I can assure you that all co-authors substantially worked over the paper and gave important intellectual input. I liked this cooperation, because the input was very valuable and the work-pace rapid”.

Hibai Lopez-Gonzalez (Spain)

[Dr. Griffiths] was my mentor during my two-year (2016-2018) postdoctoral research fellowship at Nottingham Trent University. We had one-hour meetings almost every week, in which we discussed my research ideas and prospective papers. He provided general guidance most of the time but not once he refused to get his hands dirty and engage with monotonous data analysis…We have co-authored 22 refereed papers together, if my calculations are not mistaken. He would always offer a critical assessment of the manuscripts I sign as leading author, including dozens of editing tips and modifications as track changes to the word documents I share with him. The turnaround time is usually 12-48 hours, including holiday periods and weekends. In many of those times [Dr. Griffiths] is abroad for work but his response time is usually unaffected by it. This has also been the case in one occasion in which he was hospitalised. I would like to add that I have never published a paper with his name on it without him contributing to it. I think I’m not alone in wondering how Mark does the trick. I don’t have the answer to this question, but I guess a combination of neurodivergence (for example, for most of his life he slept 3 hours a night) and perfectionism/obsessiveness (he would edit every single comma, capital letter, italic and space from the reference list) could work as a preliminary hypothesis”.

Colin O’Gara (Ireland)

“There is no question that [Dr. Griffiths] has contributed materially to our recent publications in the area of behavioural addictions in Irish populations. I first met Mark at a conference in 2012 in Dublin and always wanted to collaborate with him.  He is an excellent colleague and we are immensely grateful for his time and generous contributions. We would be very much hoping for Mark’s continued input in future”.

Amir Pakpour (Iran)

“I confirm that my collaborations with [Dr. Griffiths] is meaningful. [Dr. Griffiths] collaborates with me in my works in computational framework, drafting manuscripts, results interpretations, and revising [papers] critically for important intellectual content”.

Md. Abdullah Mamun (Bangladesh)

“I am just writing to confirm that Professor Griffiths made major written and intellectual contributions to all the papers that I have co-authored with him this year (and last year). Whenever I send him a draft of a paper he typically works on three or four drafts before submission. I have learned so much from him over the past three years and he has helped rise my research profile in Bangladesh enormously”.

Tzipi Buchman-Wildbaum (Israel)

“I confirm that Mark Griffiths had a significant contribution to the publications we co-authored. Mark had meaningful contribution to the writing and editing of the papers. He also provided supervision, guidance, and professional feedback from his extensive theoretical knowledge in the field of mental health and psychopathologies. He was involved and devoted during the whole publication process and I’m grateful for his help and involvement in my work.”

Kamrul Hsan (Bangladesh)

“I am writing to you about Mark Griffiths’ co-authorship on our papers. I would like to inform you that Mark Griffiths was a co-author on some of our papers…He contributed to [the papers] both intellectually and physically writing, and manuscript preparation. He is a very hard working researcher and supportive to young researchers”.

Niklas Hopfgartner (Austria)

“I can confirm that Mark always provides valuable input in our research / papers, both through physical writing and discussing ideas / methods / results”.

Tyrone Burleigh (UK)

“I would like to share my experience with [Dr. Griffiths] as my co-author. The number of articles I have published is relatively small. However, as an early career researcher Mark’s input on my papers has been an invaluable contribution. In my experience, he has always added a layer of expertise and critical insight into my papers (both physically and intellectually), and his contribution has been anything but minimal. Mark is an extremely dedicated researcher and he has always gone that extra mile to help me in my work. I have seen no faults in his work ethic or integrity when I have had the pleasure of collaborating with him”.

Elizabeth Killick (UK)

“I have co-authored two papers with Mark Griffiths during my PhD at Nottingham Trent University (so far). Mark contributed significantly to both papers”.

Li Li (China)

I confirm to you that Dr. Griffiths’ co-authorships on our papers were as a direct result of intellectually and physically writing and contributing to each of the papers he has co-published with me. In our papers, Dr. Griffiths and me analysed and interpreted the data. In addition, he also edited and contributed to the revised papers. I believe that he is an energetic and productive scholar”.

Arnaldo Rodríguez León (Cuba)

“I’m a Senior Cuban Cardiologist with 25 years’ experience in clinical cardiology…I decided to write to Professor Griffiths because he is and outstanding authority in this field [of social media addiction] and I had an original idea about it. We began to write the paper and sent each other more than 20 emails…I assure youProfessor Mark Griffiths wrote more than 50% of the paper. At the same time he continuously checked references, asked me questions about my draft, and when the article was almost ready he still was able to check some ideas. I’m deeply impressed because he works as a machine!!!”

Bruno Schivinski (Australia)

“I am writing you regarding the query initiated by Professor Bishop…I have co-authored and published with Professor Mark Griffiths three papers since 2018. I confirm his co-authorships on our papers. Professor Griffiths contributed to each of the papers both intellectually and by writing them. Furthermore, I would like to mention that Professor Griffiths is a role model in our profession”.

Aslam Mia (Malaysia)

“I have published one [article] recently with [Prof. Griffiths]. I would like to confirm that I am the one who approached [him] to be a co-author…due to his vast knowledge and expertise in the related field. Prof. Griffiths significantly contributed (e.g., strengthened the arguments, rewrote and revised the draft and raised several questions to be addressed…He did at least two rounds of revision before sending the paper to the journal. I have worked with around 25 researchers from at least 10 countries. And honestly speaking, I have not found anyone like Prof. Griffiths who is so active when it comes to joint research. I was mesmerized by his time management in delivering the joint work. It is sad to learn that someone is accusing him because he has published a lot”.

Shahla Ostovar (Iran)

“I have known Prof. Griffiths since 2014 and we have some publications together and two of them were published in 2020. Our publications in 2020 is a chain of hard working starting from 2016 with the basic idea from all authors including Prof. Griffiths. For writing each manuscript we had lots of communications with him. He really is more than a supervisor and co-author. He point-by-point guided us in both data analysis and writing to reach an acceptable manuscript. Then we tried some different journals to find a suitable house for our manuscripts. Both of our 2020 publications were reviewed over a long period of time and took more than 6 months to get acceptance. He is one of the key theoreticians in internet addiction and other addictions. It is obvious lots of researchers want to work with…[He is] generous in support [of] polishing ideas, analysis of data, and in writing the papers. Unfortunately, there are some jealous people who do not like Prof. Griffiths’ achievements…I can assure you that he contributed greatly to all my papers with him including the 2 published this year”.

Remya Lathabhavan (India)

“Dr Mark Griffiths contributed in discussion of the initial idea, writing, review and clarification on each other’s contribution, selection of journal, submission formalities and responses to reviewers for our work. He is a hardworking and sincere researcher who is reachable over mail any point of time for providing research advice and research communication for an early researcher like me”.

Zsolt Horvath (Hungary)

“I have two publications where [Dr. Griffiths] is listed as a co-author…I can confirm that in both cases Mark significantly contributed to writing and revising the manuscript”.

Alvaro Sicilia (Spain)

“After becoming aware of the controversy surrounding Professor Bishop’s blog about Professor Mark Griffiths, I am writing this email…I met Professor Griffiths in October 2018 while on sabbatical at Nottingham Trent University, which ended in October 2019. I recognise that Professor Griffiths’ production is prolific and I understand that this may attract the attention of other academics. However, once I shared a year of work with Professor Griffiths, I was able to see the high level of dedication to his work and the wide network of collaborations he has with researchers from all over the world…What I would like to put on record is that I can confirm that [he] has contributed to each of the articles that we have published together since 2019. His contribution has been varied and always enriching. In some cases, he has served as a critical expert incorporating substantial ideas into the study and reviewing the first drafts. On other occasions, he has contributed to the idea and design of the study itself, in addition to the process of writing the text. In any case, in many of the works published with Professor Griffiths, the tasks carried out by each of the co-authors have been made explicit….I do not want to end without expressing my appreciation for the contributions that Professor Griffiths has made in each of the works published or in preparation. Both for me and for my research team at the University of Almeria, it has been a pleasure to work together with Mark Griffiths and we hope that our collaboration can be maintained over time”.

David Fernandez (UK)

“I have, in total, two co-authored publications with [Dr. Griffiths]…I can attest that Mark contributed significantly to both of these publications, such that he unequivocally deserves co-authorship on them”.

Chung-Ying Lin (Hong Kong)

“I am writing this letter to confirm that [Dr. Griffiths] has contributed significantly to all my publications co-authored with him. I have also kept the records that can indicate Mark’s contribution”.

Zeyang Yang (Hong Kong)

“I confirm that Prof Mark Griffiths contributed to all our co-authored papers carefully with detailed corrections, feedback, and concerns. Mark contributed to all parts of our papers from Abstract to Conclusion with detailed comments on the sources of background information, theoretical and empirical literature discussing, data analysis selection, methods and results presentation, results discussion, research implications and even spelling errors”.

Zsolt Demetrovics (Hungary)

“I can confirm of course that [Dr. Griffiths’] co-authorship in our co-authored papers was in each case a result of [his] intellectual contribution and physical writing. Jack Grove has already approached me as well and wants to know more about the JBA review process”.

Halley Pontes (Australia)

“I am writing to you to give you some perspective about Professor Mark Griffiths in relation to the email you sent him regarding the blog entry by Professor Dorothy Bishop. Professor Mark Griffiths is one of the main founders (considered to be the founder in Europe) of a very controversial and highly relevant (in terms of public health) field of research. Professor Griffiths has been publishing his work on behavioural and technological addictions since the early 1990s, and as such, is recognised widely by his peers as one of the founders of the technological addictions field. Professor Griffiths has an extremely impressive network of collaborators from numerous countries and this is the main reason he is a prolific researcher (in addition to his hard work). I have worked with Professor Griffiths for nearly 10 years now, and we have co-authored a total of 74 research outputs together…Not only have I worked collaboratively with Professor Griffiths remotely (online), but also in a close context during the time I have lived in the UK where I would meet Professor Griffiths weekly at Nottingham Trent University. Of all the 74 published outputs I have with Professor Griffiths, all of them received substantial intellectual contribution and input from him. Professor Griffiths is not someone who gets his name on papers without having made a robust intellectual contribution. I can also attest to Professor Griffith’s high ethical standards and academic integrity as a result of working with him for so many years”.

Frank Buono (USA)

“I have been working with Dr. Griffiths for 5 years now, and during this time every manuscript that we have published together, he has provided direct insight in accordance to the publishing rights associated with American Psychological Association, and the respective journal’s by-laws…In [our] latest manuscript, ‘Gaming and Gaming Disorder: Mediation Model Gender, Salience, Age of Gaming Onset and Time Spent Gaming’, Dr. Griffiths as senior author provided 5 edits of the manuscript, after the manuscript was rejected from the first journal. He also, provided feedback in constructing letter of response to the editors”.

Alex Sumich (UK)

“I have known [Prof. Griffiths] for 10 years now, and have published several manuscripts with him…In all of these, he has contributed substantially in terms of study plan and writing…In [the cases I have co-published with him, Prof. Griffiths] attended (if not led) several meetings leading up to the first draft of the manuscripts, and based on his expertise and experience actively contributed to the planning of the studies through several discussions. In all cases, the initial drafts of the manuscripts were then written by the doctoral students. These were then circulated around co-authors for further input. In all cases, he made substantial and valuable suggestions for improving the manuscripts, typically contributing to 2-3 drafts prior to final submission. Following submission, each of these manuscripts received peer feedback and the research team discussed our response to issues raised. Thus, in my experience Prof Griffiths has very much earnt his position as co-author on all of these publications. [Prof Griffiths] has previously described himself as a ‘writing addict’. Writing is certainly his passion and he is incredible efficient at it. He has developed an excellent international collaborative network…Based on my own experience of working with Mark, I would feel confident that he would have contributed significantly to every publication that carries his name. He is a highly conscientious academic…Much of his work is in addiction research, and as such would naturally be published in specialist journals for addiction. Mark is also a very talented teacher, and mentor”.

David Columb (Ireland)

“I have worked with [Dr. Griffiths] on five published and one soon to be published article since I commenced research in the field of behavioural addiction about three years ago. Dr. Griffiths informed me about your upcoming article in relation to prolific publishing and a query on the credibility of Mark’s co-authored pieces. In every piece of research, I have worked with [Dr. Griffiths] on, he has contributed substantially to each one. I am only new to the research field and without his input on each paper we’ve done together, I imagine some of them would not be at publishing standard. It can actually be quite a chastening experience talking to Dr. Griffiths about our research topics and ideas as he can end up fixing the majority of it! I personally have never questioned Dr. Griffiths’ output as I have received emails on weekends and odd hours from him with multiple corrections and suggestions to papers, which shows someone dedicated to research and helping others with their research and would go some way to explaining his prolific publishing. He is also very willing to provide guidance on research whenever I would need some”.

Maria Ciccarelli (Italy)

“I am writing you to confirm that Dr. Griffiths’ co-authorship on my papers is the result of his contribution to papers I have co-published with him”.

Sabbir Ahmed (Bangladesh)

“Professor Griffiths is one of the best researchers and supervisors I have ever seen in my life. I have three co-authored papers with him. In every paper, he has significantly contributed from research design to manuscript writing. He is very hardworking and I am really happy to work with him. His scholastic guidance helps me to conduct some interesting research and in the future, I want to work more with him”.

Kagan Kircaburan (UK)

“Professor Griffiths’ co-authorships on all my papers were as a direct result of his intellectual and physical contributions. His contributions (in literature reviews, methods, analyses, and discussion sections) made each and every paper that I’ve published with him much better and publishable in good journals”.

Melina Throuvala (UK)

“I have been working with Professor Griffiths as a PhD student since September 2016 and am now a Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University in the Psychology Department. I would like to confirm that Professor Griffiths has contributed significantly to all of our co-authored papers. Working closely with him, I have witnessed first-hand his contribution to papers he co-authors. I do understand that the sheer number of publications can raise questions. However, never in my life have I met such a prolific author as Mark. His collaborations are a testament to his work ethic and expertise in this field, which he is diligently serving the last 30 years”.

Zhaojun Teng (China)

“As a lead author, this year I co-authored and published two articles [with Prof. Griffiths]. I confirm that he contributed to these works, and should be list as a co-author, according to CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy). Each work, Prof. Griffiths paid much time and attention to work on the manuscript. From the draft writing, rejected by the journal, revising, and proof to publication, we needed at least 10 rounds of revision. I keep the email records. If needed, I can provide every version of these two articles”.

Gabriel Bonilla Zorita (UK)

“Personally, I can confirm that Mark as my supervisor has contributed a great deal with our publication. He is an incredibly dedicated academic and those who are near to him know that he put in hours of work like no other academic. I have no doubt of his integrity and legitimate contribution to all his co-authored publications and work”.

Paolo Soraci (Italy)

“I confirm that Professor Griffiths has contributed to my research (for example, reviewing the research, proposing ideas and changes, checking the bibliography, arranging the research layout and many other things). He has my most sincere regards”.

Saiful Islam (Bangladesh)

“I have co-authored with Dr. Griffiths. He is very supportive and contributes a direct result of intellectually and physically writing and editing to each of the papers. I really appreciated his extensive edits and guidance. Without physically writing and editing, he wouldn’t have been be a co-author with me”.

Ivan Ukhov and Johan Bjurgert (Sweden)

“We have had the pleasure to work with Professor Griffiths since around March 2019. In October 2019, we submitted a manuscript to the ‘Journal of Gambling Studies’, and in June 2020, it was accepted for publication. The contribution of Professor Griffiths to the work in question was substantial. We had numerous e-mail conversations, discussing the essence of the study and the delivery of the results by together iterating over the manuscript until convergence”.

Deena Dsouza (India)

I really appreciate [Dr. Griffiths’] contribution as a co-author in the recent publication on the topic pertaining to online gaming…I am stating without any hesitation that Dr. Griffiths contributed intellectually and physically in writing the manuscript, until the last stage of proofreading. The manuscript has been the combined effort of all the authors. As an expert in this field, his contribution significantly impacted the manuscript. It was my pleasure working with him. His intellectual contribution, hard work, and passion towards research is appreciated undoubtedly”.

Alan Emond (UK)

“I am one of Prof. Griffiths’ collaborators. He has been advising me on the ALSPAC Gambling Study (based on Children of the Nineties cohort) for over 10 years,  was a co-applicant on the grant which funded the analysis and contributed to the study design and analytic strategy. He edited and approved the report and papers arising from the study. One of the papers has been accepted by IJMHA, but was subject to a full peer review, and I received two critical reviews from gambling experts which I responded to in the revised manuscript. As far as I am concerned, Mark has been an excellent collaborator and has contributed intellectually to the research and fulfilled his responsibilities as a co-author”.

Nazire Hamutoğlu (Turkey)

“I would like to thank Dr. Griffiths for his contribution towards our article. I would kindly like to inform you that Dr. Griffiths materially contributed to the publication we co-authored. He is one of the best co-authors [and] made a marvellous contribution”.

Francesca Gioia (Italy)

During my PhD course, supervised by Prof Valentina Boursier, I spent three months at the Nottingham Trent University. Prof. Mark Griffiths was my tutor during my PhD visit, kindly and willingly welcoming me at his lab, from September to November 2019. I can definitely assure you that Prof. Griffiths concretely contributed to critically revising the co-authored papers concerning my PhD research project”.

Valentina Boursier (Italy)

“Concerning my papers that Prof. Griffiths co-authored, I can absolutely confirm that he concretely contributed revising them critically. These works are part of our collaboration on my PhD student’s (Francesca Gioia) research project, that Dr. Gioia conducted with me in Italy and Prof. Griffiths supervised during her visiting at the Nottingham Trent University”.

Filipa Calado (UK)

“I have been working with Professor Griffiths since 2015, firstly as a PhD student, and now as a lecturer in Nottingham Trent University. I would like to confirm that Mark has strongly contributed to the papers that I am the first author. He actively contributed to the design of the studies, choice of the variables, theoretical background, and writing of the papers, among other things. Working with him has enabled me to deepen my knowledge on the field of behavioural addictions, and to start a career on this topic”.

Michael Auer (Austria)

“I have been working with Dr. Griffiths since 2010 and we published our first paper together in 2011. Since then we have published at least 30 papers together…I believe that our papers are quite complex as they are all empirical based on real-world data from various online gambling companies. My speciality is gambling research as I am also commercially involved in the industry. I can assure you that Mark is highly involved in all the publications and we at least run through five iterations until we are ready to submit a paper. So far we have managed to publish every paper that we worked on. I can imagine that it is quite unbelievable how much he publishes, but I’d say it is somehow his superpower. Everybody has one or more strengths and writing papers is for sure his!”

Francesco López-Fernández (Spain)

“I confirm the co-authorship of Mark in our paper due to his relevant contribution. He deeply reviewed the study several times providing important changes and commentaries during my research stay at Nottingham Trent University”.

Bernadette Kun (Hungary)

“I confirm that Professor Mark Griffiths intellectually and physically wrote and contributed to the papers he has co-published with me. I confirm that his work was very important and useful in our common papers”.

Sanju George (India)

“I have written/published with Professor Griffiths, both during my time in the UK and since my return to India. I can confidently state that in all the papers we have written/published together, Prof Griffiths has actively and fully contributed materially and intellectually”.

Andrzej Cudo (Poland)

“I would like to confirm that Professor Griffiths was co-author of my published paper, and his direct intellectual contribution and physical writing had primarily concerned the theoretical background and discussion related to the obtained results presented in my paper”.

Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Behavioural Addiction, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Cite seeing: A brief guide for academics to increase their citation count

Apologies to any non-academics reading my blog today but this article will be of more interest to academic researchers than anyone else as it examines the strategies that I have used to get (what some people have claimed as) an “excessive” number of citations to my published work. All academics are aware that the use of bibliometric data is becoming ever more important in academia. Along with impact factors of academic journals, one of the most important bibliometric indicators is citation counts. These are increasingly being used in a number of contexts including internal assessment (e.g., going for a job promotion) and external assessments (e.g., use in the Research Excellence Framework [REF] as a proxy measure of quality and impact).

In June 2016 I reached close to 30,000 citations on Google Scholar and this is good evidence that what I do day-to-day works. I have an h-index of 91 (i.e., at least 91 of my papers have been cited 91 times) and an i10-index of 377 (i.e., a least 377 of my papers have been cited 10 times).

Citation counts take years to accumulate but you can help boost your citations in a number of different ways. Here are my tips and strategies that I personally use and that I know work. It probably goes without saying that the more you write and publish, the greater the number of citations. However, here are my top ten tips and based on a number of review papers on the topic (see ‘Further reading’ below):

  • Choose your paper’s keywords carefully: In an age of search engines and academic database searching, keywords in your publications are critical. Key words and phrases in the paper’s title and abstract are also useful for search purposes.
  • Use the same name on all your papers and use ORCID: I wish someone had told me at the start of my career that name initials were important. I had no idea that there were so many academics called ‘Mark Griffiths’. Adding my middle initial (‘D’) has helped a lot. You can also use an ORCID or ResearcherID and link it to your publications.
  • Make your papers as easily accessible as possible: Personally, I make good use of many different websites to upload papers and articles to (ResearchGate and academia.edu being the two most useful to me personally). Your own university institutional repositories can also be useful in this respect. All self-archiving is useful. It is also especially important to keep research pages up-to-date if you want your most recent papers to be read and cited.
  • Disseminate and promote your research wherever you can: I find that many British academics do not like to publicise their work but ever since I was a PhD student I have promoted my work in as many different places as possible including conferences, seminars, workshops and the mass media. More recently I have used social media excessively (such as tweeting links to papers I’ve just published). I also write media releases for work that I think will have mass appeal and work with my university Press Office to ensure dissemination is as wide as possible. I also actively promote my work in other ways including personal dissemination (e.g., my blogs) as well as sending copies of papers to key people in my field in addition to interested stakeholder groups (policymakers, gaming industry, treatment providers, etc.). I have a high profile web presence via my many websites.
  • Cite your previously published papers: Self-citation is often viewed quite negatively by some academics but it is absolutely fine to cite your own work where relevant on a new manuscript. Citing my own work has never hurt my academic career.
  • Publish in journals that you know others in your field read: Although many academics aim to get in the highest impact factor journal that they can, this doesn’t always lead to the highest number of citations. For instance, when I submit a gambling paper I often submit to the Journal of Gambling Studies (Impact factor=2.75). This is because gambling is a very interdisciplinary field and many of my colleagues (who work in disparate disciplines – law, criminology, social policy, economics, sociology, etc.) don’t read psychology journals. Some of my highest cited papers have been in specialist journals.
  • Try to publish in Open Access journals: Research has consistently shown that Open Access papers get higher citation rates than non-Open Access papers.
  • Write review papers: Although I publish lots of empirical papers I learned very early on in my academic career that review papers are more likely to be cited. I often try to write the first review papers in particular areas as everyone then has to cite them! Some types of outputs (especially those that don’t have an abstract) are usually poorly cited (e.g., editorials, letters to editors).
  • Submit to special issues of journals: Submitting a paper to a special issue of a journal increases the likelihood that others in your field will read it (as it will have more visibility). Papers won’t be cited if they are not read in the first place!
  • Publish collaboratively and where possible with international teams. Again, research has consistently shown that working with others collaboratively (i.e., team-authored papers) and in an international context has been shown to significantly increase citation counts.

Finally, here are a few more nuggets of information that you should know when thinking about how to improve your citation counts.

  • There is a correlation between number of citations and the impact factor of the journal but if you work in an interdisciplinary field like me, more specialist journals may lead to higher citation counts.
  • The size of the paper and reference list correlates with citation counts (although this may be connected with review papers as they are generally longer and get more cited than non-review papers.
  • Publish with ‘big names’ in the field. Publishing with the pioneers in your field will lead to more citations.
  • Get you work on Wikipedia References cited by Wikipedia pages get cited more. In fact, write Wikipedia pages for topics in your areas.
  • Somewhat bizarrely (but true) papers that ask a question in the title have lower citation rates. Titles that have colons in the title have higher citation rates.

Note: A version of this article was first published in the PsyPAG Quarterly (see below)

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Behavioural Addictions, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Ball, P. (2011). Are scientific reputations boosted artificially? Nature, May 6. Located at: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110506/full/news.2011.270.html (last accessed April 27, 2015).

Bornmann, L., & Daniel, H. D. (2008). What do citation counts measure? A review of studies on citing behavior. Journal of Documentation, 64(1), 45-80.

Corbyn, Z. (2010). An easy way to boost a paper’s citations. Nature, August 13. Located at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/news.2010.406 (last accessed April 27, 2015).

Ebrahim. N. A. (2012). Publication marketing tools – Enhancing research visibility and improving citations. University of Malaya. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Available at: http://works.bepress.com/aleebrahim/64

Ebrahim, N., Salehi, H., Embi, M. A., Habibi, F., Gholizadeh, H., Motahar, S. M., & Ordi, A. (2013). Effective strategies for increasing citation frequency. International Education Studies, 6(11), 93-99.

Ebrahim, N.A., Salehi, H., Embi, M. A., Habibi, F., Gholizadeh, H., & Motahar, S. M. (2014). Visibility and citation impact. International Education Studies, 7(4), 120-125.

Griffiths, M.D. (2005). Self-citation: A practical guide. Null Hypothesis: The Journal of Unlikely Science (‘Best of’ issue), 15-16.

Griffiths, M.D. (2015). How to improve your citation count. Psy-PAG Quarterly, 96, 23-24.

Jamali, H. R., & Nikzad, M. (2011). Article title type and its relation with the number of downloads and citations. Scientometrics, 88(2), 653-661.

Marashi, S.-A., Amin, H.-N., Alishah, K., Hadi, M., Karimi, A., & Hosseinian, S. (2013). Impact of Wikipedia on citation trends. EXCLI Journal, 12, 15-19.

MacCallum, C. J., & Parthasarathy, H. (2006). Open Access increases citation rate. PLoS Biology, 4(5), e176, http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0040176

Swan, A. (2010) The Open Access citation advantage: Studies and results to date. Located at: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/268516/ (last accessed April 27, 2015).

Vanclay, J. K. (2013). Factors affecting citation rates in environmental science. Journal of Informetrics, 7(2), 265-271.

van Wesel, M., Wyatt, S., & ten Haaf, J. (2014). What a difference a colon makes: How superficial factors influence subsequent citation. Scientometrics, 98(3): 1601–1615.