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Google Scholar Is Manipulatable


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Researchers purchase 50 citations to fake papers created with ChatGPT.

Credit: Shutterstock

Citations are widely considered in scientists' evaluation. As such, scientists may be incentivized to inflate their citation counts.

While previous literature has examined self-citations and citation cartels, it remains unclear whether scientists can purchase citations. Here, we compile a dataset of ~1.6 million profiles on Google Scholar to examine instances of citation fraud on the platform. We survey faculty at highly-ranked universities, and confirm that Google Scholar is widely used when evaluating scientists.

Intrigued by a citation-boosting service that we unravelled during our investigation, we contacted the service while undercover as a fictional author, and managed to purchase 50 citations. These findings provide conclusive evidence that citations can be bought in bulk, and highlight the need to look beyond citation counts.

From arXiv
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