Journal articles written by women less likely to be cited, Penn Med study finds


A new study released July 2 by the Perelman School of Medicine found that medical journals and articles written by women are cited less than those by men. Credit: Max Mester

A new study from the Perelman School of Medicine has found that in medical journals, articles written by women are cited less often than those written by men, often resulting in slower career progression and lower pay for women doctors.

In the study, which was published on July 2, researchers analyzed 5,554 articles from five major academic medical journals published between 2015 and 2018. Researchers found that articles in which women were both lead authors and Leaders had about half as many median citations as the authors. by men as lead and lead authors. Research papers in which women were both principal and principal authors were cited least often among any combination of principal and principal authors.

Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics executive director Rachel Werner and assistant professor of general internal medicine Paula Chatterjee – the two lead authors of the study – said after hearing anecdotes from colleagues that women were less recognized for their research, they decided to find out if the stories could be supported by statistics. The results only confirmed their suspicions.

“[Women] weren’t getting the same recognition as their male counterparts, ”Chatterjee said.

The study found that how often researchers are cited impacts both promotions and, ultimately, pay. The disparity in citations is one possible explanation for the pay gap between professors and professors, an urgent problem at many universities.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed by female higher education professors over inadequate remuneration in recent years.

Princeton University announced in fall 2020 that it would pay nearly $ 1.2 million in compensation to female professors after a review of staff salaries from 2012 to 2014.

Werner predicts that the gender gap in citations is in part due to the fact that the researchers are less well known in their respective fields.

“People are more likely to quote people they know. The effect is self-sustaining and it’s hard to break. We need some research on how to fix the problem, ”Werner said.

Another possible explanation is that women are less likely to cite themselves, Chatterjee said. Self-quotes are usually a major source of quotes received, she added.

“This problem has many contributing factors, so there are many ways to fix the problem,” Chatterjee said.

The disparity in the quotes of men and women is just the tip of the iceberg, according to Werner, who said that there are “all kinds of disparities based on race, ethnicity and gender” in the workplace. medical domain.

Even so, researchers can take steps to bridge the gap, Chatterjee said, like being more aware of who they’re citing and who they’re not. Additionally, medical journals should find a way to collect citation metrics, to ensure fairness, Chatterjee added.

Chatterjee said the next step is to research how to break the cycle.

“The next two steps are simple: the first is to figure out why we are seeing what we are seeing, the second is to figure out what we can do about it. ”


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