This study investigates the role of self-citation in the scientific production of Norway (1981-1996). More than 45,000 publications have been analysed. Using a three-year citation window we find that 36% of all citations represent author self-citations. However, this percentage is decreasing when citations are traced for longer periods. We find the highest share of self-citation among the least cited papers. There is a strong positive correlation between the number of self-citations and the number of authors of the publications. Still, only a minor part of the overall increase in citation rates that can be found for multi-authored papers is due to self-citations. Also, the share of self-citation shows significant variations among different scientific disciplines. The results are relevant for the discussion concerning use of citation indicators in research assessments.
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