Female unhappiness over research authorship decisions revealed

International survey of scholars finds women are more likely to feel aggrieved over decisions regarding author credit or ordering

九月 1, 2021
Source: istock

Female scholars are significantly more likely than male peers to experience disputes over research authorship, says a major global survey that suggests difficulties in gaining credit for research may be slowing women’s career advancement.

According to a new paper published in Science Advances, which drew on responses by more than 5,500 international researchers, women are 38 per cent more likely to report difficulties regarding credit for research outputs – which rose to 50 per cent in the natural sciences and engineering.

Women are 25 per cent more likely than men to disagree with collaborators on how authors in their group are ordered, with these rankings often denoting a scholar’s relative contribution to a research paper, according to the study by US and Canadian researchers.

Women are also more likely to feel disappointed that their work had not been duly acknowledged and are more likely to perceive hostility as a result of naming or ordering disagreements, says the paper published on 1 September.

“Our results demonstrate that women were more likely to experience authorship disagreements and experience them more often,” states the paper, which adds that “women perceived that they received less credit than deserved, while men reported the opposite”.

“This devaluation of women’s work in science creates cumulative disadvantages in scientific careers,” the study continues, recommending that “open discussion regarding power dynamics related to gender is necessary to develop more equitable distribution of credit for scientific labour”.

The study also suggests men and women approach the issue of authorial credit differently. Men are 35 per cent more likely to settle the matter of authorship order when a manuscript is due whereas women are more likely to discuss authorship when a team is first formed.

Men are also more likely to decide authorship without team consultation, showing a “more authoritarian communication style by determining authorship with a small group at the end”, says the study. “Conversely, women tend to be more democratic and seek the agreement of a larger group at the beginning of the research process,” it adds.

Acknowledging these different approaches at the start of research projects would help to reduce some of the conflicts over authorship seen later on, the study recommends.

“Men seem to favour a more hierarchical construct of laboratory structure [while] women seem to prefer more inclusive arrangements that allow broader participation in decision-making about authorship and a more representative recognition of scholarly contributions,” it explains, adding that “acknowledgment of these gendered differences and increased dialogue in the distribution of authorship may serve to mitigate potential disputes within research teams.”




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