The author(s) should also cite …

Peer-reviewing is a funny business. It’s not uncommon to receive requests to cite some work not already cited, and often these are useful pointers of where the literature is at: highlighting oversights. Sometimes they are clearly strategic, like when the editor asks to cite a vaguely-related paper recently published in the same journal, or when the reviewer asks to be cited more or less openly. Sometimes they are puzzling, like:

  • cite a 15-years old PhD thesis from a person who does not appear active in academia any more (no web presence, no hits in Google Scholar)
  • cite Smith 2008 in European Sociological Review (I’m making this example up), only to find that there is no such paper. I recently had a reviewer where all papers indicated were wrong and I was left guessing — either the author(s), year, or journal were wrong
  • cite that forthcoming paper by Smith et al. which is not yet available as “Early View”
  • cite a research report only available in Hungarian
  • the assertion that “there must be existing literature on this”

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