Female scholars worried about low citation of their work

Monday, March 13th, 2023 10:30 | By
Female scholars worried about low citation of their work
Inadequately citing or entirely omitting scholarly works of women reflects the larger problem of entrenched marginalisation in the academia

Over the years, women in the academics have complained over lack or low citation of their research work in the academic world.

Joy Owango, Founding Director for Training Center in Communication says citation of women’s research work is very low while their work is really undervalued and most of their research works go unrecognised. Gender-based differences in research citations henceforth has been identified as a key contributor to disparities in the advancement and promotion of women in academia.

Owango, during a webinar held to celebrate Iternational Women’s Day last week dubbed ‘Social Justice and Gender in Universities’ said majority of the citations are of male researchers, yet women have been working hard to publish their researches. “Recent studies show over-citation of research work by the male academics is because there are many male researchers compared to their female counterparts. High number of male researchers means high number of research work, which increases their likelihood of being cited,” she says.

Owango further says another reason for male over-citation is that research journals done by men are published faster than their female counterparts. “This means, men can be able to publish more research work, which earns them recognition than the female academicians,“ she adds.

Also, the fast publication of male research in journals is because the majority of the reviewers are men who tend to have biases towards their male research.

The citation injustices have had many effects, such as inequalities in terms of level of competition in the academic fields.

“High citations increase ones’ level of employment and it also gives one power of salary negotiation. That is why we need to get rid of gender disparity in citation in the universities,” she says.

Prof Nwachukwu Olayinka from Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, in Nigeria says gender is just one of the reasons why there is low citation of women’s research.

She says there are other reasons that come with being a female that contribute to the citation injustices.

She says the majority of female researchers are rarely available because they have to balance between their careers and personal lives, which is contrary to their male colleagues who are readily available whenever they are required to take up research assignments.

“For women, before taking up any research work, they will have to gauge a lot of things in their lives. They have to think of their children and families, their education and many other obstacles. But for their male counterparts, they do not have a lot of hindrances and, therefore, they are readily available,” she says.

Societal perceptions

Olayinka says biological peculiarities, such as pregnancy, breastfeeding and much more is also a hindrance to women’s success in citation, especially if it is a physical research and, therefore, they will have to forego such opportunities.

Societal perceptions were also cited as an obstacle to low citation of female researchers. “There are so many perceptions against women pursuing some careers or taking some opportunities. We live in a patriarchal society where women are expected to stay at home and are not allowed or expected to do something and those who defy these perceptions are perceived as abnormal,” she says.

She says even though there are many opportunities for researchers, the underlying factor points to the availability of the researchers, which for female academics, it depends on various factors.

Also, to gain confidence in a researchers’ work, their prior research helps in getting researchers more citations.

However, Olayinka says some female researchers published work is not cited, because it is not visible. “Younger academics are getting more citations because their works are more visible. They amplify their journals on social media and other platforms. They do not shy away from blowing their own trumpet compared to older generations, including myself,” she says.

Make work visible

She says female researchers also need to be strategic and intentional about who and where they want to publish their research work, as this is one aspect of being recognised.

The professor says many scholars tend to cite publications, which are on popular journals websites, because they are more visible compared to those on less known or unpopular sites. “There are journals you cannot access, because they are behind paid walls and most people tend to shy away from journals that will require them to pay so as to access,” she says.

The professor says low citations result in dampened morale, resentment and regrets for missed opportunities.

 Professor Christen Smith, Director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas in USA says the inequalities have limited women and it was time they were given their space to present their work.

She says recent research shows disparities even among women scholars, dividing them into black and non-black’s female researchers.“The study showed there were 2.6 per cent black female researchers in the US while 97 per cent were non-blacks. And only citation of black women researchers was only 0.8 per cent while for non-black women, it was 99 per cent, a clear evidence of disparities even among academic women,” she says.

Owango says female scholars need to re-evaluate and re-strategies to attract more citations.

Professor Olayinka says compared to years back, there are more women researchers and appointments are also done fairly.

She, however, says there are many opportunities and women scholars should fight for them in the same capacity as their male counterparts. “There are enough funds for research, promotions and appointments are fair and if one needs redress, the avenues are available. Women only need to put in more work and produce more good research and they will be cited more, “she says.

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