Duplicate publication and ‘paper inflation’ in the fractals literature

Science and Engineering Ethics 12 (3):543-554 (2006)
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Abstract

The similarity of documents in a large database of published Fractals articles was examined for redundancy. Three different text matching techniques were used on published Abstracts to identify redundancy candidates, and predictions were verified by reading full text versions of the redundancy candidate articles. A small fraction of the total articles in the database was judged to be redundant. This was viewed as a lower limit, because it excluded cases where the concepts remained the same, but the text was altered substantially.Far more pervasive than redundant publications were publications that did not violate the letter of redundancy but rather violated the spirit of redundancy. There appeared to be widespread publication maximization strategies. Studies that resulted in one comprehensive paper decades ago now result in multiple papers that focus on one major problem, but are differentiated by parameter ranges, or other stratifying variables. This ‘paper inflation’ is due in large part to the increasing use of metrics (publications, patents, citations, etc) to evaluate research performance, and the researchers’ motivation to maximize the metrics.

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