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Are men encouraged to be more aggressive in pursuit of career success?Do women work on smaller teams with fewer publications and fewer opportunities for self-citations?
Could it be that even modest differences in self-citation rates might snowball into noticeable differences in total citations?
In other words, does self-promotion through self-citation work?
Be careful what you measure, since a truism of the business world is ‘what gets measured gets managed.’ And measures that come with rewards often get gamed.
When a person’s career or reputation depends on citation counts, the temptation to inflate those counts is never far away.
They can be counted, and in a data-driven world, these counts have assumed outsized importance as a proxy for the influence of a given paper.
Citation counts also serve as (flawed) measures of journal importance (the impact factor) and researcher clout (the h-index).
Self-cites become a problem only when they are either spurious or biased.
Since deciding that a specific citation is either spurious or biased requires a judgment based on the cited work, the paper in which the citation occurs, and the field within which the work resides, it is not an easy evaluation to make.
Some authors are more likely to cite their colleagues’ work than their competitors’; some journals expect their submitting authors to preferentially cite work published in that journal.
However, the easiest way to promote your own work (and thus yourself) is with the self-citation: a citation to one’s own prior work.