Academic Search Engine Spamming

Jonathan Rochkind had a really interest blog post commenting on a recent article about “Academic Search Engine Spam and Google Scholar’s Resilience Against it” published by Joeran Beel and Bela Gipp in Journal of Electronic Publishing. The article (and Rochkind’s blog post) discuss how scholars could manipulate citation counts and visibility in Web-based academic search engines like Google Scholar. It is unclear what the risk-reward factor for this would be, but if it can be done, I am sure at least a few scholars will try to do it. However, it is also true as Beel and Gipp point out that citation gaming is not at all new. Some publishers and journals actively encourage people to cite from there journal(s), and there are citation circles and of course self-citing.

I am not really sure how much we should be worried about this, at least how much we should worry about it MORE than we do the whole idea of using dubious measures such as citation counts to account for promotion and tenure decisions to begin with. As Rochkind sums it up:

Once you start to look too carefully, the whole academic publishing endeavor can start to seem like a somewhat arbitrary game played by agreed upon rules in order to justify tenure decisions, rather than attempt to share knowledge with ones peers or the world or in general. In this light though, the possibility of gaming Google Scholar is perhaps less alarming, as it’s really just business as usual.

Happy reading.