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Questionable University-sponsored supplements in high-impact journals

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This article raises the awareness of university-sponsored supplements in high-impact journals and the issues of this new practice. Based on a library user’s complaint of a dead OpenURL link, this study looks over dozens of articles from university-sponsored supplements in Science, Nature, and Cell Press journals. It compares their metadata with those of regular articles from the parent journals. It also compares how these supplements are indexed by comprehensive journal indexes (Academic Search Complete, Scopus, and Web of Science). It found that various universities and research institutes in East Asia, mainly China, are major sponsors of supplements of key journals in recent years. The issues along with this new practice include dead OpenURL linking, index irregularities, self-congratulatory sponsors and their misled audience in East Asia. The media in China was so misled that it ranked one sponsored story among world top 10 news. It questions the ethics in publishing university-sponsored supplements, and calls for standardizations of assigning metadata including DOI as well as adding a disclaimer to all supplement articles.

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The author is grateful to Ellie Hansen of Bradley University (Emeritus) for editing this paper.

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Correspondence to Xiaotian Chen.

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Chen, X. Questionable University-sponsored supplements in high-impact journals. Scientometrics 105, 1985–1995 (2015).

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