Publishing: Halt self-citation in impact measures

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
505,
Page:
160
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/505160b
Published online

We can improve the gender differences in science publishing and research (see V. Larivière et al. Nature 504, 211213; 2013) by making measurements of scientific output and impact fairer.

For example, time spent on active research should be incorporated into assessments of research productivity. This would provide a fairer comparison for researchers who take parental leave or who have other caring duties or high teaching loads, and would reduce the pressure on those scientists.

It would also be useful to halt the inclusion of author self-citations in measures of research impact, because self-citation is a male-biased practice (E. Z. Cameron et al. Trends Ecol. Evol. 28, 78; 2013). After all, genuine impact hinges on independent citation.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia.

    • Elissa Z. Cameron &
    • Amy M. Edwards
  2. US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Davis, California, USA.

    • Angela M. White

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Comments

  1. Report this comment #62577

    Tani Davis said:

    Strange how the authors support one of their two points (an alleged male bias in self-citation) by self-citation, and that reference doesn't actually support the point. All I can see there is a weak reference to another paper "and perhaps moderate sexual dimorphism in self-citation rates [10]". That reference in turn merely states (at least in the abstract) that "Self-citation correlates weakly with the gender of the citing author".

    These ideas for improving citation metrics are not bad, but they are also not new, and not as simple to address as sometimes thought. Wrapping them in a gender-eqality flag with dubious factual support is not particularly helpful. On the other hand, the authors now have got themselves a Nature publication and another citation for their other work.

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