Gender (Im)balance in Citation Practices in Cognitive Neuroscience

J Cogn Neurosci. 2021 Jan;33(1):3-7. doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_01643. Epub 2020 Oct 20.


In the field of neuroscience, despite the fact that the proportion of peer-reviewed publications authored by women has increased in recent decades, the proportion of citations of women-led publications has not seen a commensurate increase: In five broad-scope journals, citations of papers first- and/or last-authored by women have been shown to be fewer than would be expected if gender was not a factor in citation decisions [Dworkin, J. D., Linn, K. A., Teich, E. G., Zurn, P., Shinohara, R. T., & Bassett, D. S. The extent and drivers of gender imbalance in neuroscience reference lists. Nature Neuroscience, 23, 918-926, 2020]. Given the important implications that such underrepresentation may have on the careers of women researchers, it is important to determine whether this same trend is true in subdisciplines of the field, where interventions might be more targeted. Here, we report the results of an extension of the analyses carried out by Dworkin et al. (2020) to citation patterns in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. The results indicate that the underrepresentation of women-led publications in reference sections is also characteristic of papers published in Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience over the past decade. Furthermore, this pattern of citation imbalances is present regardless of author gender, implicating systemic factors. These results contribute to the growing body of evidence that intentional action is needed to address inequities in the way that we carry out and communicate our science.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Neuroscience*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neurosciences*