If you happen to be looking for evidence that your husband, boyfriend, brother, or father is a self-serving know-it-all, look no further. A new working paper has discovered that men are significantly more likely than women to back up their arguments with…their own arguments! The research — conducted by two women and three men at several universities — reviewed the scholarly database JSTOR and found that between 1799 and 2011 men cited their own papers and research 56 percent more often than women did.
Before jumping to any argument crushing conclusions, please consider that self-citation in and of itself is not an uncommon practice, particularly for scholars in very specific fields. It’s often the case that someone working in a niche area relies on their own research for written works. In fact, self-citation represents about 10 percent of the nearly 8.2 million citations recorded on JSTOR.
But it’s also the case that self-citation boosts a scholar’s academic standing. The number of citations an author accumulates indicates the author’s authority and influence, which in turn implies the author’s impact on their field (kinda how Wikipedia articles work). As a result, scholars with a high quantity of citations are better posited for jobs, pay, and tenure. It doesn’t take much dot-connecting to understand how this practice of self-citation may reinforce gender inequality in academic workplaces.
Even among the authors of this study itself, the male authors “cite themselves at nearly three times the average rate of the women authors,” according to The Washington Post. And in the last two decades, particularly, researchers found men self-cite 70 percent more than women.