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Front. Phys., 15 December 2016 |

Toward the Discovery of Citation Cartels in Citation Networks

Iztok Fister Jr.1, Iztok Fister1 and Matjaž Perc2,3*

1Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Maribor, Maribor, Slovenia

2Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Institute of Physics, University of Maribor, Maribor, Slovenia

3Center for Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Maribor, Maribor, Slovenia


In this perspective, our goal is to present and elucidate a thus far largely overlooked problem that is arising in scientific publishing, namely the identification and discovery of citation cartels in citation networks. Taking from the well-known definition of a community in the realm of network science, namely that people within a community share significantly more links with each other as they do outside of this community, we propose that citation cartels are defined as groups of authors that cite each other disproportionately more than they do other groups of authors that work on the same subject. Evidently, the identification of citation cartels is somewhat different, although similar to the identification of communities in networks. We systematically expose the problem, provide theoretical examples, and outline an algorithmic guide on how to approach the subject.

Author Contributions

IF Jr., IF, and MP designed and performed the research as well as wrote the paper.


This research was supported by the Slovenian Research Agency (Grants P5-0027 and J1-7009).

Conflict of Interest Statement

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Keywords: citation network, citation cartel, network science, community detection, cooperation

Citation: Fister I Jr., Fister I and Perc M (2016) Toward the Discovery of Citation Cartels in Citation Networks. Front. Phys. 4:49. doi: 10.3389/fphy.2016.00049

Received: 02 November 2016; Accepted: 29 November 2016; Published: 15 December 2016.

Edited by: Antonio F. Miguel, University of Évora, Portugal

Reviewed by: Zoran Levnajic, Institute Jozef Stefan, Slovenia, Marija Mitrovic Dankulov, Institute of Physics Belgrade, Serbia, Walter Quattrociocchi, IMT Lucca, Italy

Copyright © 2016 Fister, Fister and Perc. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Matjaž Perc,

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