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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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    Cited by:

    1. Deming Lin & Tianhui Gong & Wenbin Liu & Martin Meyer, 2020. "An entropy-based measure for the evolution of h index research," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 125(3), pages 2283-2298, December.
    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. Mike Thelwall, 2020. "Female citation impact superiority 1996–2018 in six out of seven English‐speaking nations," Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Association for Information Science & Technology, vol. 71(8), pages 979-990, August.
    4. T. Edison Carter & Thomas E. Smith & Philip J. Osteen, 2017. "Gender comparisons of social work faculty using H-Index scores," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 111(3), pages 1547-1557, June.
    5. Michał Krawczyk, 2017. "Are all researchers male? Gender misattributions in citations," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 110(3), pages 1397-1402, March.
    6. Thomas C. Erren & J. Valérie Groß, 2016. "Research metrics: What about weighted citations?," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 107(1), pages 315-316, April.
    7. Creso Sá & Summer Cowley & Magdalena Martinez & Nadiia Kachynska & Emma Sabzalieva, 2020. "Gender gaps in research productivity and recognition among elite scientists in the U.S., Canada, and South Africa," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(10), pages 1-14, October.
    8. Pantea Kamrani & Isabelle Dorsch & Wolfgang G. Stock, 2021. "Do researchers know what the h-index is? And how do they estimate its importance?," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 126(7), pages 5489-5508, July.
    9. 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).
    10. 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.
    11. Pritchard, Annette & Morgan, Nigel, 2017. "Tourism’s lost leaders: Analysing gender and performance," Annals of Tourism Research, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 34-47.
    12. Simoes, Nadia & Crespo, Nuno, 2020. "Self-Citations and scientific evaluation: Leadership, influence, and performance," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1).
    13. Marjolijn N. Wijnen & Jorg J. M. Massen & Mariska E. Kret, 2021. "Gender bias in the allocation of student grants," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 126(7), pages 5477-5488, July.

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