GENDER DISPARITY IN LAW REVIEW CITATION RATES.

Author:Cotropia, Christopher A.
 
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TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION 773 I. PREVIOUS RESEARCH ON GENDER DISPARITY AND CITATION 775 RATES A. Studies Outside of Law 775 B. Studies on Legal Scholarship 778 II. METHODS 781 III. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION 782 A. Overall 782 B. Investigating the Impact of the Opportunity to Be 787 Cited C. Considering High Impact Articles 789 D. Investigating Other Possible Determinants of 793 Citation Rates E. What Is Different About Female-Authored Articles? 799 1. Team Authorship 800 2. Citation Behavior 806 3. Article Production and Frequency 807 CONCLUSION 809 APPENDLX 810 INTRODUCTION

Although there is some debate over the merits of using the number of citations that academic research receives as a measure of its quality and professional recognition, (1) citation counts are commonly used for this purpose, (2) and studies have provided considerable evidence that citation rates correlate with research quality. (3) Citation to research also serves the purpose of fitting the research into the broader structure of the relevant field of study. (4) Thus, when a researcher publishes findings that are never cited, it can be said that the researcher has failed to make a significant contribution to any field of study. (5) Moreover, regardless of the genuine merits of using citation rates to measure the quality and professional recognition of scholarship, citation rates are commonly considered in the contexts of hiring and tenuring, as well as in the context of allocating research funds. (6)

The question of whether gender disparity in citation rates occurs within a discipline is therefore one of importance. If, for example, research by women accumulates fewer citations than research by men, that fact might impact the hiring and professional advancement of women researchers, and, by extension, could more broadly impact the likelihood of women researchers participating in and contributing to a field of study. (7) For at least this reason, the question of whether gender disparity in citation rates exists has garnered considerable interest. (8) In addition, if gender disparity in citation rates does occur, it would naturally be very interesting to understand why it exists.

Although some fields have observed gender disparity in citation rates, few have looked to see whether noticeable differences exist within legal scholarship. (9) Although we have found no articles specifically focused on the issue, a report by Ian Ayres and Fredrick Vars in 2000 focused on a small universe of legal journals (three to be exact), (10) and another by Deborah Merritt, in the same year, tracked a specific cohort of law professors. (11) Both studies provide some relevant information. Both studies, however, occurred over fifteen years ago and focused on citations in the 1980s and 1990s. (12) And notably, the results of these studies point in different directions, with Ayres and Vars finding that female authors are cited more than male authors, (13) and Merritt finding the opposite. (14)

Given the interest in the topic, the importance of the topic, and the conflicting earlier results, we decided to embark on a larger, more current study to investigate whether legal scholarship exhibits a gender disparity in scholarly influence. We report here an analysis of the impact of author gender on citation to articles published in top 100 law reviews between 1990 and 2010. In this process, we coded for a variety of possible determinants of citation rates with the hope that we might be able to develop some useful, if nascent, insights into the relationship between author gender and citation rate in the field of legal studies.

We find evidence of gender disparity in citation rates. In surprising contrast to observations made in most other disciplines, (15) we observe that female-authored articles are generally cited more often than male-authored articles, and that the difference is statistically noticeable, although not overwhelming. (16) This observation holds true, moreover, even after statistically controlling for other plausible determinants of citation rates. (17) Female authors appear at least somewhat disproportionately responsible for higher impact articles. (18)

This Article reports and analyzes these results as follows. Part I describes previous research done on gender disparity and citation rates, both in research areas outside of law and law itself. Part II describes the methods of our study. Part III details and discusses the results found, exploring some possible mechanisms for the gender disparity in citation rates that favors female-authored articles.

  1. PREVIOUS RESEARCH ON GENDER DISPARITY AND CITATION RATES

    1. Studies Outside of Law

      Most of the previous studies on gender disparity in citation rates have focused on areas other than legal scholarship. Even these studies produced mixed results, with some disciplines exhibiting a higher citation rate for male authors, some higher citation rates for female authors, and some observing no statistically significant difference.

      A number of studies spanning the natural and social sciences have indicated that women researchers receive fewer citations than their male counterparts. (19) In the natural sciences, researchers have found that women scientists both publish less than men and are cited less. (20) Researchers in the social sciences, such as sociology (21) and international relations, have made similar findings. (22) These findings hold true for papers authored by teams. (23) Articles with a woman in the dominant author position (first or last author) receive fewer citations than papers authored by men or which have men in the dominant author position. (24)

      Not all studies outside of the law, however, point in the same direction. Studies in the areas of ecology, (25) dendrochronology, (26) information sciences, (27) and criminal justice (28) suggest that papers authored by female researchers are cited at rates statistically indistinguishable from papers authored by male researchers. One study in the area of ecology and evolutionary biology found that, once one controls for the lower rates of female researcher productivity, female researchers receive more citations than male researchers. (29)

      The variation in observations across disciplines led Carolyn Copenheaver and colleagues to conclude: "Gender differences in citation rate appear to be discipline specific, so identifying whether a difference exists within a discipline is an important factor for making fair and equitable decisions regarding the evaluation and promotion of female and male researchers." (30)

      Other factors relevant to gender disparities in citation rates have also been studied. For example, the ratio of female to male researchers varies greatly in many disciplines, with most exhibiting far fewer females. (31) Furthermore, research on gender's influence on productivity has demonstrated that female researchers are more likely to publish at slower rates and have shorter research careers. (32) Researchers have also studied the acceptance rates of female-authored articles at top journals in comparison to male-authored articles, finding a higher acceptance rate for male-authored articles. (33) Others have found that females have a hard time finding coauthors, (34) but that women, while engaging in fewer collaborations, are more open to teaming with new coauthors. (35) Data also supports that men are more likely to cite their own papers than women, (36) and that men are more likely to cite other men. (37)

    2. Studies on Legal Scholarship

      With regard to legal scholarship, gender disparity in scholarly influence has received very little attention. Two studies, done in the early 2000s, use two very different methodologies and arrive at different results: one finding female authors cited more than men, (38) and the other finding the opposite. (39)

      Ayres and Vars, in a study not particularly directed to the question of women's scholarly influence, did observe that female-authored papers receive significantly more citations than papers authored by men. (40) Ayres and Vars analyzed the citations for articles published from 1980 to 1995 in three law reviews: Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review, and Yale Law Journal. (41) In addition to date and journal of publication, they examined fifty other article attributes, including demographic data regarding the author's gender. (42)

      Based on this data, Ayres and Vars found that "[w]hite female authors received 57 percent more citations than white men" and that "[a]rticles by minority women were the most heavily cited, with 164 percent more citations than articles by white men." (43) The authors thought that the editors at the top three journals caused this finding by "setting a higher quality threshold for their acceptance" of female-authored articles as compared to male-authored articles. (44) The finding could also be that the articles by female authors "were of higher average quality." (45) Ayres and Vars further noted that the difference could be based in some nonqualify related bias to citing female authors; however, data suggested that citation, in general, is based on quality of the cited article. (46)

      Merritt performed a study looking at the relationship of gender and race on scholarly impact. (47) Merritt found that white men averaged significantly more citations than did women or minorities. (48) Merritt's study made this finding based on a model of a specially selected cohort of law professors. (49) Merritt examined citation counts for all 815 professors who began tenure-track positions at accredited U.S. law schools between 1986 and 1991, and who remained on the tenure track in fall 1998. (50) In addition to citation count, Merritt identified the race and gender of each of the professors in the dataset, as well as other author characteristics. (51)

      Merritt found a difference in citation rates along gender lines. (52) Notably, this difference was "particularly small when compared...

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