Finding: A Gender Gap in Citations

March/April 2017

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From 1991 to 2011, men cited their own previous research in academic papers 1.7 times for every one time a woman did.

That’s one finding from a study led by Stanford sociology doctoral student Molly King. It’s among a variety of statistics on higher self-citation by men that may illustrate how strongly gender can influence career advancement in academia (and perhaps, by extension, other professions).

Self-citation can raise the visibility and status of a scholar’s work, and that can lead to advantages in hiring and promotion.

King acknowledges that the study comes with several caveats, including uncertainty about why men might feel more comfortable citing themselves and the possibility that men are overrepresented in some types of research. King says she’s considering further study “into understanding why these trends are happening.”

The disciplines analyzed included most of the humanities and social sciences, and a substantial number of the physical and biological sciences.

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