Research: it’s harder for female researchers to get cited

Getting cited is almost as important as getting published as a researcher, but your gender can play tricks on you, sadly enough as a new study by Daniel Maliniak, Ryan Powers & Barbara F. Walter shows. The truth is pretty clear: after controlling for a range of relevant factors, men are cited more than women in international relations research.

From their conclusion:

“The data reveal that articles published by women in the top journals of international relations are cited less often than those written by men even after controlling for the age of publication, whether the author came from an R1 school, the topic under study, the quality of the publishing venue, the methodological and theoretical approach, and the tenure status of the author. Articles written by women are also cited less often than articles co-authored with at least one man. They are also cited less often in seminal articles in the field. This bias may be declining, but even if it is, women’s work is still not valued to the same degree as men’s.”

In the paper they also suggest a couple of possible explanations:

  • A look at the data reveals that women in IR do, in fact, cite their work significantly less than men.
  • A second possible explanation has to do with informal agreements made amongst a group of scholars to cite each other.

Abstract of the paper that can be downloaded here:

We investigate the extent to which citation and publication patterns differ between men and women in the international relations literature. Using data from the Teaching, Research, and International Policy project on peer-reviewed publications between 1980 and 2007, we show that women are systematically cited less than men after controlling for a large number of variables including year of publication, quality of publication, substantive focus, theoretical perspective, methodology, tenure status, and institutional affiliation. These results are robust to a variety of modeling choices. We then turn to network analysis to investigate the extent to which the gender of an article’s author affects that article’s relative centrality in the network of citations between papers in our sample. We show that articles authored by women are also systematically less central than articles authored by men, all else equal. We argue and then show that this is likely due to two factors: (1) women tend to cite themselves less than men, and (2) men (who make up a disproportionate share of IR scholars) tend to cite men more than women. This is the first study in political science to reveal significant gender differences in citation patterns. This finding is especially significant since citation counts have historically been viewed as a relatively objective and important measure of the quality and impact of research.

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