Praise the bridge that carries you over: Testing the flattery citation hypothesis

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Abstract

Flattery citations of editors, potential referees, and so on have been claimed to be a common strategy among academic authors. From a sociology of science perspective as well as from a citation analytical perspective, it is both an interesting claim and a consequential one. The article presents a citation analysis of the editorial board members entering the American Economic Review from 1984 to 2004 using a citation window of 11 years. To test the flattery citation hypothesis further, we have conducted a study applying the difference-in-differences estimator. We analyze the number of times the editors and editorial board members of the American Economic Review were cited in articles published in the journal itself as well as in a pool of documents comprising articles from the Journal of Political Economy and the Quarterly Journal of Economics. The results of the analyses do not support the existence of a flattery citation effect.

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