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Biased Citation Practice and Taxonomic Parochialism


Michael Taborsky, Behavioural Ecology, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern, Wohlenstrasse 50a, CH-3032 Hinterkappelen, Bern, Switzerland. E-mail:


Citation bias in scientific literature is as widespread as unwelcome. Among other drawbacks, it has a detrimental influence by the wide use of citation statistics for political decisions on resource distribution. Here I ask whether a taxonomic citation bias exists in behavioural studies. The analysis revealed that (1) the taxonomic citation bias is on average large, with nearly a quarter of articles in a haphazardly chosen sample referring to the studied taxon alone, and (2) behavioural studies on mammals and birds show a significantly larger bias than work on other taxa. In contrast, research themes and questions studied do not seem to influence the taxonomic citation bias. Authors of different regions of the world do not differ in their taxonomic citation bias, and the number of papers cited in an article does not relate to the degree of bias. I discuss potential reasons for the substantial citation bias revealed by this analysis and conclude that taxonomic parochialism is a likely cause.

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