Women less likely than men to author invited commentaries in scientific journals

New research published in JAMA Network Open has found that women authors are less likely than men to participate in invited commentaries in medical journals.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, began by thoroughly examining invited commentaries in 2,459 English-based medical journals published between January 2013 and December 2017.

“This matched case-control study included all medical invited commentaries published from January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2017, in English-language medical journals and multidisciplinary journals,” wrote Emma Thomas, the study’s co-author.

“Invited commentaries were defined as publications that cite another publication within the same journal volume and issue. Bibliometric data were obtained from Scopus. Cases were defined as corresponding authors of invited commentaries in a given journal during the study period.”

In the findings, researchers discovered that the odds of invited commentary for women authors were 21 percent lower compared to men with a similar scientific background.

“In this case-control study of invited commentaries published in 2459 journals from January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2017, the odds of authoring an invited commentary were 21% lower for women compared with men who had similar fields of expertise and publication metrics among researchers who had been actively publishing for the median of 19 years,” the findings state.

Additionally, the gender gap was wider among senior researchers, the team determined.

“This result challenges the common assumption that gender disparities in invited article authorship can be explained by greater publication success, seniority, or self-selection into competitive fields among male scientists.”

“For future research, journals could keep records of invitations to establish whether there are gender differences in acceptance rates.”

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