All of us who are involved in any kind of academic writing have to conform to minimum standards such as the meticulous recording of source material in the form of cited references. Griffiths (2005) noted that there are three main reasons why people use references. These being (i) the expression of an idea has been put forward more clearly elsewhere by someone else, (ii) to make specific reference to relevant past literature, and (iii) to provide suggestions for further background reading.
These reasons can also be applied to self-citation. However, self-citation has additional advantages. Griffiths (2005) also notes that self-citation references can also be used to (i) let journal reviewers and referees know who has written the paper (which may not always be a good thing!), (ii) to establish to readers your reputation in a given area and/or (iii) satisfy cravings to see your name in print! In today’s blog I aim to examine the art of obsessive self-citation in academic writing and give some effortless hints and tips.
It has previously been asserted that self-citation is academia’s way of expressing one’s ego although this was based on anecdotal evidence rather than any kind of empirical investigation (Griffiths, 2016a). After an exhaustive literature search it perhaps came as no surprise that I found absolutely nothing on the subject of self-citation except an unpublished paper by myself (Griffiths, 2013) which has been described as “the best article in this area” (Griffiths, 2016b).
So what can the experienced and obsessive self-citation expert get up to in the course of a single article? Self-citation aficionados are known to use such tricks as referring to themselves in less conventional formats such as letters to national newspaper (e.g. Griffiths, 1998), articles in international newspapers (Griffiths, 2014), articles in national newspapers (e.g. Griffiths, 2016c), articles in local newspapers (Griffiths, 2016d), educational leaflets (e.g. Griffiths, 1993a), consultancy reports (e.g. Griffiths, 2002a) or blogs (Griffiths, 2016e).
However, these work most effectively if they are buried away amongst more conventional references such as books and refereed journal articles. Those experienced in obsessive self-citation will often sink to even murkier depths. For instance, self-citation is an excellent way of introducing something that seems implausible into your argument. Two common ways to disguise implausibility is the liberal use of such phrases as “paper forthcoming”, “manuscript submitted for publication”, “internal report” or “personal communication” (however, the latter should be used very sparingly as it suggests that the author is someone who talks about things more than writing them). If you sprinkle these into an article and intersperse them with a few very genuine citations such as books you wrote which received very good reviews (Griffiths, 1995; 2002b) or some of your good and/or highly cited refereed journal papers spread across a number of years (Auer & Griffiths, 2015; Cole & Griffiths, 2007; Griffiths, 1991a; 1993b; 1994; 1996; 1997; 1999; 2000; 2001; 2003; 2004; 2008; 2010; Griffiths, Kuss, Billieux & Pontes, 2016; Kuss, Griffiths & Binder, 2013) it can look very professional and in some cases impressive (or just show you to be the egomaniac that you are).
For the really experienced, secondary self-citation or embedded self-citations can often be useful. This is a technique where you can use quotes attributed to you in a newspaper or magazine article written by someone else (e.g. Griffiths, 1991b) although it looks as though it is one of the author’s bona fide references.
However, as my last word on the subject, I will leave you with one practice you should definitely avoid. I am referring to the inclusion of self-citation by pseudonym that has been described by Mithgriffs (2015) as “a despicable habit that should be stamped out”.
Auer, M. & Griffiths, M.D. (2015). Testing normative and self-appraisal feedback in an online slot-machine pop-up message in a real-world setting. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 339. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00339.
Cole, H. & Griffiths, M.D. (2007). Social interactions in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing gamers. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 10, 575-583.
Griffiths, M.D. (1991a). The observational study of adolescent gambling in UK amusement arcades. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 1, 309-320.
Griffiths, M.D. (1991b). Cited in Neustatter, A. “Keyboard junkies”. The Independent on Sunday Review, November 17, p.64.
Griffiths, M.D. (1993a). Your child and video games: Advice for parents. Coventry: National Council for Educational Technology (leaflet).
Griffiths, M.D. (1993b). Tolerance in gambling: An objective measure using the psychophysiological analysis of male fruit machine gamblers. Addictive Behaviors, 18, 365-372.
Griffiths, M.D. (1994). The role of cognitive bias and skill in fruit machine gambling. British Journal of Psychology, 85, 351-369.
Griffiths, M. (1995). Adolescent Gambling. London: Routledge.
Griffiths, M.D. (1996). Pathological gambling and its treatment. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 35, 477-479.
Griffiths, M.D. (1997). Video games and clinical practice: Issues, uses and treatments. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 36, 639- 641.
Griffiths, M.D. (1998). Unlucky number for under-16s. The Guardian, February 25, p.15.
Griffiths, M.D. (1999). Counselling in the treatment of pathological gambling: An overview. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 27, 179-190.
Griffiths, M.D. (2000). Internet addiction – Time to be taken seriously? Addiction Research, 8, 413-418.
Griffiths, M.D. (2001). Sex on the Internet: Observations and implications for sex addiction. Journal of Sex Research, 38, 333-342.
Griffiths, M.D. (2002a). The Social Impact of Casinos. Nottingham: Browne-Jackson.
Griffiths, M.D. (2002b). Gambling and Gaming Addictions in Adolescence. Leicester: British Psychological Society/Blackwells.
Griffiths, M.D. (2003). The therapeutic use of videogames in childhood and adolescence. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 8, 547-554.
Griffiths, M.D. (2004a). Odds and sods: You (nearly) win again. The Guardian, April 20, p. 6.
Griffiths, M.D. (2004b). Can videogames be good for your health? Journal of Health Psychology, 9, 339-344.
Griffiths, M.D. (2005). Self-citation: A practical guide. Null Hypothesis: The Journal of Unlikely Science (‘Best of’ issue), 15-16.
Griffiths, M.D. (2008). The biopsychosocial and “complex” systems approach as a unified framework for addiction. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 31, 446-447.
Griffiths, M.D. (2010). The role of context in online gaming excess and addiction: Some case study evidence. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 8, 119-125.
Griffiths, M. (2013). The art of self-citation. Article submitted for publication.
Griffiths, M.D. (2014). Sunshine: As addictive as heroin? Washington Post. June 24. Located at http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/06/24/sunshine-as-addictive-as-heroin/
Griffiths, M. (2016a). Personal communication with myself. September 29, 2016.
Griffiths, M.D. (2016b). Personal communication with myself. September 29, 2016.
Griffiths, M.D. (2016c). It will rule your life but addicts can be helped. Sunday Mirror, May 1, p.5.
Griffiths, M.D. (2016d). Sorry may be the hardest word but more people than ever are saying it. Nottingham Post, April 11, p.14.
Griffiths, M.D. (2016e). Market forces: Does gambling advertising increase problem gambling? August 22. Located at: https://drmarkgriffiths.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/market-forces-does-gambling-advertising-increase-problem-gambling/
Griffiths, M.D., Kuss, D.J., Billieux J. & Pontes, H.M. (2016). The evolution of internet addiction: A global perspective. Addictive Behaviors, 53, 193–195.
Kuss, D.J., Griffiths, M.D. & Binder, J. (2013). Internet addiction in students: Prevalence and risk factors. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 959-966.
Mithgriffs, G. (2015). Whose self-citation is it anyway? Occasional Made-Up Paper (No.3).