• reference standards;
  • writing standards;
  • journal impact factors;
  • nursing journals

Risk factors for citation errors in peer-reviewed nursing journals

Background. Citation errors are common among nursing journals. But, there are no data regarding the factors that predispose to these errors.

Objective. To determine the risk factors that predispose to citation error in peer- reviewed nursing journals.

Methods. Five hundred and fifty references were selected randomly from articles published in eleven nursing journals for the year 1998. The incidences of major and minor citation errors were determined by comparing with the original articles. The relative odds of citation errors for the number of authors, collaborating institutions and the length of the reference list were calculated. The correlation between the scientific quality of the journal (by means of journal impact factor and immediacy index) and the incidence of citation error were also determined.

Results. The incidence of citation errors is comparable to those reported previously. Long reference lists in articles written by a single author predicted strongly the occurrence of minor citation errors. Journals with a high impact factor and immediacy index tend to contain fewer minor mistakes. None of these factors affect the incidence of major errors.

Conclusion. Contributors to journals should be aware of the various risk factors for citation errors. Citation accuracy may be improved by modifying these factors.