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Gender and the h index in psychology


  • Lisa Geraci

    () (Texas A&M University)

  • Steve Balsis

    (Texas A&M University)

  • Alexander J. Busch Busch

    (Texas A&M University)


It has become increasingly common to rely on the h index to assess scientists’ contributions to their fields, and this is true in psychology. This metric is now used in many psychology departments and universities to make important decisions about hiring, promotions, raises, and awards. Yet, a growing body of research shows that there are gender differences in citations and h indices. We sought to draw attention to this literature, particularly in psychology. We describe the presence of a gender effect in h index in psychology and analyze why the effect is important to consider. To illustrate the importance of this effect, we translate the observed gender effect into a meaningful metric—that of salary—and show that the gender difference in h index could translate into significant financial costs for female faculty. A variety of factors are discussed that have been shown to give rise to gender differences in impact. We conclude that the h index, like many other metrics, may reflect systematic gender differences in academia, and we suggest using caution when relying on this metric to promote and reward academic psychologists.

Suggested Citation

  • Lisa Geraci & Steve Balsis & Alexander J. Busch Busch, 2015. "Gender and the h index in psychology," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 105(3), pages 2023-2034, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:scient:v:105:y:2015:i:3:d:10.1007_s11192-015-1757-5
    DOI: 10.1007/s11192-015-1757-5

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Angelov, Nikolay & Johansson, Per & Lindahl, Erica, 2013. "Is the persistent gender gap in income and wages due to unequal family responsibilities?," Working Paper Series 2013:3, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    2. Leo Egghe, 2006. "Theory and practise of the g-index," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 69(1), pages 131-152, October.
    3. Marianne A. Ferber & Michael Brün, 2011. "The Gender Gap in Citations: Does It Persist?," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(1), pages 151-158, January.
    4. Maliniak, Daniel & Powers, Ryan & Walter, Barbara F., 2013. "The Gender Citation Gap in International Relations," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 889-922, October.
    5. Pleun Arensbergen & Inge van der Weijden & Peter Besselaar, 2012. "Gender differences in scientific productivity: a persisting phenomenon?," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 93(3), pages 857-868, December.
    6. Pablo D. Batista & Mônica G. Campiteli & Osame Kinouchi, 2006. "Is it possible to compare researchers with different scientific interests?," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 68(1), pages 179-189, July.
    7. Heidi Prozesky & Nelius Boshoff, 2012. "Bibliometrics as a tool for measuring gender-specific research performance: an example from South African invasion ecology," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 90(2), pages 383-406, February.
    8. James H. Fowler & Dag W. Aksnes, 2007. "Does self-citation pay?," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 72(3), pages 427-437, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Simoes, Nadia & Crespo, Nuno, 2020. "Self-Citations and scientific evaluation: Leadership, influence, and performance," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1).
    2. Tove Faber Frandsen & Rasmus Højbjerg Jacobsen & Jakob Ousager, 2020. "Gender gaps in scientific performance: a longitudinal matching study of health sciences researchers," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 124(2), pages 1511-1527, August.
    3. Tove Faber Frandsen & Rasmus Højbjerg Jacobsen & Jakob Ousager, 0. "Gender gaps in scientific performance: a longitudinal matching study of health sciences researchers," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 0, pages 1-17.
    4. Nunkoo, Robin & Hall, C. Michael & Rughoobur-Seetah, Soujata & Teeroovengadum, Viraiyan, 2019. "Citation practices in tourism research: Toward a gender conscientious engagement," Annals of Tourism Research, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    5. Thomas E. Smith & Kat S. Jacobs & Philip J. Osteen & T. Edison Carter, 2018. "Comparing the research productivity of social work doctoral programs using the h-Index," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 116(3), pages 1513-1530, September.

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    h index; Citations; Gender; Psychology;


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