Whether you’re having it out over the dinner table or making your case in a high-level academic paper, there’s one very important way of building your argument … the appeal to authority. And it seems that men in particular are prone to seeing themselves as the best authority of all.
As the Washington Post reports, a new study of self-citations in academia has found proof of something suspected by generations of annoyed wives: men are significantly more likely to cite themselves as experts in any given argument.
The study, conducted by two women and three men from Stanford University, NYU, and University of Washington, looked at the 1.5 million research papers published between 1779 and 2011 and available in the JSTOR database. The researchers found that 10% of the citations in the average academic paper were self-citations. In other words, the author of the paper cited his or her own previous work.
— George Roff (@JezRoff) August 2, 2016
As the Post explains, citing yourself is not necessarily a problem–pioneers in a particular field of study might find that they’re one of the only people available to cite on the subject. However, the number of article citations you have as a researcher or academic is also an indication of your impact on your field. This can lead to people “juicing” their citation count by citing themselves in their own work.
— Fabrizio Gilardi (@fgilardi) July 8, 2016
As the authors of the study learned, men are significantly more likely to self-cite. In all the papers studied, from 1779 to 2011, men cited themselves 56% more often than women. And rather than lessening as more women enter the workforce, the problem has gotten worse. When they looked at just the last two decades of papers, the researchers found that men self-cite 70% more often than women. In contrast, women were 10% more likely not to cite themselves at all.
The gender gap in citations was unaffected by subject matter. Even in the research paper documenting the gap, the authors noted that the male authors cited themselves three times as often as their female counterparts.
— Simon Donner (@simondonner) August 2, 2016
Unfortunately, there’s a real world impact from women’s comparative modesty in self-citing (or men’s lack thereof). Because citation count contributes to your standing in the field–and because researchers are more willing to cite someone who already has lots of citations to their name–women may be hampering their own careers by refusing to self-cite.
Though, as any irritated wife would say, men could help out by not being so quick to highlight their own expertise on everything.
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Source: independent journal
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