1. Human Biology and Medicine
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Gender variations in citation distributions in medicine are very small and due to self-citation and journal prestige

  1. Jens Peter Andersen  Is a corresponding author
  2. Jesper Wiborg Schneider
  3. Reshma Jagsi
  4. Mathias W Nielsen
  1. Aarhus University, Denmark
  2. University of Michigan, United States
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Cite this article as: eLife 2019;8:e45374 doi: 10.7554/eLife.45374

Abstract

A number of studies suggest that scientific papers with women in leading-author positions attract fewer citations than those with men in leading-author positions. We report the results of a matched case-control study of 1,269,542 papers in selected areas of medicine published between 2008 and 2014. We find that papers with female authors are, on average, cited between 6.5% and 12.6% less than papers with male authors. However, the standardized mean differences are very small, and the percentage overlaps between the distributions for male and female authors are extensive. Adjusting for self-citations, number of authors, international collaboration and journal prestige, we find near-identical per-paper citation impact for women and men in first and last author positions, with self-citations and journal prestige accounting for most of the small average differences. Our study demonstrates the importance of focusing greater attention to within-group variability and between-group overlap of distributions when interpreting and reporting results of gender-based comparisons of citation impact.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Jens Peter Andersen

    Danish Centre for Studies on Research and Research Policy, Aarhus University, Aarhus C, Denmark
    For correspondence
    jpa@ps.au.dk
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-2444-6210
  2. Jesper Wiborg Schneider

    Danish Centre for Studies on Research and Research Policy, Aarhus University, Aarhus C, Denmark
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  3. Reshma Jagsi

    Department of Radiation Oncology and Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, United States
    Competing interests
    Reshma Jagsi, stock options in Equity Quotient; advisory role and personal fees from Amgen and consulting for Vizient.
  4. Mathias W Nielsen

    Danish Centre for Studies on Research and Research Policy, Aarhus University, Aarhus C, Denmark
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-8759-7150

Funding

Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science (6183-00001B)

  • Jesper Wiborg Schneider

Aarhus University Research Foundation (AUFF-2018-7-5)

  • Mathias W Nielsen

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Peter Rodgers, eLife, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: January 21, 2019
  2. Accepted: July 10, 2019
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: July 15, 2019 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: August 2, 2019 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2019, Andersen et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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