I want to cite my previous work. Is self-citation ethical?
Citing your own previously published work is known as self-citation. Although, self-citation is not unethical, excessive self-citation definitely is. A lot of researchers turn to self-citations to artificially boost their citation count. For example- Sundarapandian Vaidyanathan a computer scientist at the Vel Tech R&D Institute of Technology, a privately run is an extreme example. Based on a study published in PLoS Biology, he has accumulated 94% of his citations from himself or his co-authors. Another data set, which consists of around 100,000 researchers has shown that around 250 scientists have received than 50% of their citations through self-citations or citations from co-authors. This is largely due to the over-reliance on citation metrics for making important decisions such as hiring, promotions and research funding.
However, not all authors who self-cite their own work do it with the intention of increasing their citation rate artificially. There are several situations where citing your own work can be inevitable. For example- The manuscript that you are preparing or have prepared is a continuum of a long-term research funding and referring to previous publications would be required to understand how you got to this point. In such a case, if you refer to something from your previous manuscript without citing it, it would amount to self-plagiarism, which is also known as redundant publication and is considered as an ethical misconduct. Even the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), has highlighted extreme self-citation as one of the main forms of citation manipulation.
Therefore, in your case, although it would be ethical to cite your previously published paper or papers, please ensure that you do not end up excessively self-citing. Additionally, if you need further help or guidance related to any other ethical dillema you could avail of Enago’s premium consultation service- Enago Consult. We have a host of consultants from diverse subject areas who can guide you on the various nuances of research ethics and clarify your doubts.