"What a shock!" said no one ever.
In the academic world, citing facts is a well known practice. It's common for people to quote sources for information when they're involved in a research paper, so that their work is evident and the research can be followed back down the trail to others who also reached that same conclusion.
"Peer-reviewed" is one of the most important parts of any research document, as it proves that the people who wrote it can have their opinions backed up by fellows within their same field.
But apparently, some men within academia didn't get this memo, as it turns out that they are far more likely than women to back up their arguments with the ultimate authority: their own opinions.
For academic writers, citations are a very important part of their work. If your research gets cited dozens or even hundreds of other times by fellow writers, it's typically a good indication that your work is on the right track and you're garnering the respect of your peers. It also doesn't hurt that many universities will factor in the amount of citations a person has received when considering anything to do with hiring, tenure, and payroll.
So what's to stop people from just citing their own work in future papers? Nothing, apparently, and morality be damned!
Molly M. King and her colleagues at Stanford, the University of Washington, and NYU determined they would discover how often "self-citation" happens by examining about 1.5 million papers of academic work within a digital library that contained published academic works from 1779 until 2011.
The findings were shocking, but somehow, also completely unsurprising. Of the works they studied, self-citation was actually found in a rather large portion of it. There were around 8.2 million citations in the 1.5 million papers they searched, and of those 8 million, approximately 10 percent of them (775,000) were actually self-cited by the author writing the work. The most interesting part? The men in these same fields were over half as likely as women to cite their own research.
"Over the years between 1779 to 2011, men cite their own papers 56 percent more than women do," the group said. But over time, that number actually increased. "In the last two decades of our data, men self-cite 70 percent more than women."
There may be a reason that men self-cite more than women do, and it might have something to do with their own opinion of themselves, which generally is higher than a woman's. They also appear not to have the same social restrictions for self-promoting that a woman might have.
"Gender perceptions of self-promotion likely influence perceptions of self-citation, which could be viewed as a form of self-promotion in the academic workplace," said King. Men also publish more papers than women do typically, which might help account for some of the higher number of self-citing, but it is probably only a small portion.
Either way, next time you get in an argument with your husband or boyfriend about something that he states as fact, you might want to have him pull up the information and make sure it's not just some "fact" he pulled out of thin air.