The publisher is scrutinizing researchers who might be inappropriately using the review process to promote their own work.
This week is peer review week, which is a good time to reflect on the professional development your institution provides on peer review. Hopefully, it includes warning against reviewers directing reviewed authors to cite their work. This case is a good example of why.
The publisher is looking into the possibility that some peer reviewers are encouraging the authors of work under review to cite the reviewers’ own research in exchange for positive reviews — a frowned-on practice broadly termed coercive citation.
Elsevier’s probe has also revealed that several of these reviewers seem to be engaging in other questionable publishing practices in studies that they have themselves authored. The Elsevier analysts who uncovered the activity told Nature that they “discovered clear evidence of peer-review manipulation” and of academics publishing the same studies more than once. Elsevier said that their investigations will lead to some of these studies being retracted.