Do women over-cite?

Posted: April 24, 2011 by Jender in self-doubt

I was recently scanning some chapters from an edited volume, and happened to notice that the chapters written by women had about three times more references each than the chapters written by men. That made me realize that perhaps my own tendency to cite the literature exhaustively is less a sign of thoroughness and professionalism than of insecurity about being taken seriously. It also made me wonder whether this tendency of women to over-cite (if indeed a general pattern) could have a negative effect in blind submissions of papers. I mentioned my observation to a more senior colleague, who said that more junior people tend to cite much more than senior people, confirming my suspicion that insecurity might be involved. But the women who had written the chapters I was scanning were senior professors.

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