Gender differences in submission behavior exacerbate publication disparities in elite journals

Authors : Isabel Basson, Chaoqun Ni, Giovanna Badia, Nathalie Tufenkji, Cassidy R. Sugimoto, Vincent Larivière

Women are particularly underrepresented in journals of the highest scientific impact, with substantial consequences for their careers. While a large body of research has focused on the outcome and the process of peer review, fewer articles have explicitly focused on gendered submission behavior and the explanations for these differences.

In our study of nearly five thousand active authors, we find that women are less likely to report having submitted papers and, when they have, to submit fewer manuscripts, on average, than men. Women were more likely to indicate that they did not submit their papers (in general and their subsequently most cited papers) to Science, Nature, or PNAS because they were advised not to.

In the aggregate, no statistically significant difference was observed between men and women in how they rated the quality of their work. Nevertheless, regardless of discipline, women were more likely than men to indicate that their “work was not ground-breaking or sufficiently novel” as a rationale for not submitting to one of the listed prestigious journals. Men were more likely than women to indicate that the “work would fit better in a more specialized journal.”

We discuss the implications of these findings and interventions that can serve to mitigate the disparities caused by gendered differences in submission behavior.


Varieties of diffusion in academic publishing: How status and legitimacy influence growth trajectories of new innovation

Authors : Kyle Siler, Vincent Larivière

Open Access (OA) publishing has progressed from an initial fringe idea to a still-growing, major component of modern academic communication. The proliferation of OA publishing presents a context to examine how new innovations and institutions develop.

Based on analyses of 1,296,304 articles published in 83 OA journals, we analyze changes in the institutional status, gender, age, citedness, and geographical locations of authors over time. Generally, OA journals tended towards core-to-periphery diffusion patterns.

Specifically, journal authors tended to decrease in high-status institutional affiliations, male and highly cited authors over time. Despite these general tendencies, there was substantial variation in the diffusion patterns of OA journals. Some journals exhibited no significant demographic changes, and a few exhibited periphery-to-core diffusion patterns.

We find that although both highly and less-legitimate journals generally exhibit core-to-periphery diffusion patterns, there are still demographic differences between such journals. Institutional and cultural legitimacy—or lack thereof—affects the social and intellectual diffusion of new OA journals.

URL : Varieties of diffusion in academic publishing: How status and legitimacy influence growth trajectories of new innovation


The gendered nature of authorship

Authors : Chaoqun Ni, Elise Smith, Haimiao Yuan, Vincent Larivière, Cassidy R. Sugimoto

Authorship is the primary form of symbolic capital in science. Despite this, authorship is rife with injustice and malpractice, with women expressing concerns regarding the fair attribution of credit. Based on an international survey, we examine gendered practices in authorship communication, disagreement, and fairness.

Our results demonstrate that women were more likely to experience authorship disagreements and experience them more often. Their contributions to research papers were more often devalued by both men and women.

Women were more likely to discuss authorship with coauthors at the beginning of the project, whereas men were more likely to determine authorship unilaterally at the end. 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. Open discussion regarding power dynamics related to gender is necessary to develop more equitable distribution of credit for scientific labor.

URL : The gendered nature of authorship


Do authors of research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research comply with its open access mandate?: A meta-epidemiologic study

Authors : Michael A. Scaffidi, Karam Elsolh, Juana Li, Yash Verma, Rishi Bansal, Nikko Gimpaya, Vincent Larivière, Rishad Khan, Samir C. Grover


Since 2008, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has mandated that studies it funds either in whole or in part are required to publish their results as open access (OA) within 12 months of publication using either online repositories and/or OA journals.

Yet, there is evidence that authors are poorly compliant with this mandate. Specifically, there has been an apparent decrease in OA publication after 2015, which coincides with a change in the OA policy during the same year.

One particular policy change that may have contributed to this decline was lifting the requirement that authors deposit their article in an OA repository immediately upon publication.

We investigated the proportion of OA compliance of CIHR-funded studies in the period before and after the policy change of 2015 with manual confirmation of both CIHR funding and OA status.

Methods and findings

We identified CIHR-funded studies published between the years 2014 to 2017 using a comprehensive search in the Web of Science (WoS). We took a stratified random sample from all four years (i.e. 2014 to 2017), with 250 studies from each year.

Two authors independently reviewed the final full-text publications retrieved from the journal web page to determine to confirm CIHR funding, as indicated in the acknowledgements or elsewhere in the paper.

For each study, we also collected bibliometric data that included citation count and Altmetric attention score Statistical analyses were conducted using two-tailed Fisher’s exact test with relative risk (RR). Among the 851 receiving CIHR funding published from 2014 to 2017, the percentage of CIHR-funded studies published as OA significantly decreased from 79.6% in 2014 to 70.3% in 2017 (RR = 0.88, 95% CI: 0.79–0.99, P = 0.028).

When considering all four years, there was no significant difference in the percentage of CIHR-funded studies published as OA in both 2014 and 2015 compared to both 2016 and 2017 (RR = 0.97, 95% CI: 0.90–1.05, P = 0.493). Additionally, OA publications had significantly higher citation count (both in year of publication and in total) and higher attention scores (P<0.05).


Overall, we found that there was a significant decrease in the proportion of CIHR funded studies published as OA from 2014 compared to 2017, though this difference did not persist when comparing both 2014–2015 to 2016–2017.

The primary limitation was the reliance of self-reported data from authors on CIHR funding status. We posit that this decrease may be attributable to CIHR’s OA policy change in 2015.

Further exploration is warranted to both validate these studies using a larger dataset and, if valid, investigate the effects of potential interventions to improve the OA compliance, such as use of a CIHR publication database, and reinstatement of a policy for authors to immediately submit their findings to OA repositories upon publication.

URL : Do authors of research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research comply with its open access mandate?: A meta-epidemiologic study


Investigating the division of scientific labor using the Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT)

Authors : Vincent Larivière, David Pontille, Cassidy R. Sugimoto

Contributorship statements were introduced by scholarly journals in the late 1990s to provide more details on the specific contributions made by authors to research papers.

After more than a decade of idiosyncratic taxonomies by journals, a partnership between medical journals and standards organizations has led to the establishment, in 2015, of the Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT), which provides a standardized set of 14 research contributions.

Using the data from Public Library of Science (PLOS) journals over the 2017–2018 period (N = 30,054 papers), this paper analyzes how research contributions are divided across research teams, focusing on the association between division of labor and number of authors, and authors’ position and specific contributions.

It also assesses whether some contributions are more likely to be performed in conjunction with others and examines how the new taxonomy provides greater insight into the gendered nature of labor division. The paper concludes with a discussion of results with respect to current issues in research evaluation, science policy, and responsible research practices.

URL : Investigating the division of scientific labor using the Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT)


The diverse niches of megajournals: Specialism within generalism

Authors: Kyle Siler, Vincent Larivière, Cassidy R. Sugimoto

Over the past decade, megajournals have expanded in popularity and established a legitimate niche in academic publishing. Leveraging advantages of digital publishing, megajournals are characterized by large publication volume, broad interdisciplinary scope, and peer‐review filters that select primarily for scientific soundness as opposed to novelty or originality.

These publishing innovations are complementary and competitive vis‐à‐vis traditional journals. We analyze how megajournals (PLOS One, Scientific Reports) are represented in different fields relative to prominent generalist journals (Nature, PNAS, Science) and “quasi‐megajournals” (Nature Communications, PeerJ).

Our results show that both megajournals and prominent traditional journals have distinctive niches, despite the similar interdisciplinary scopes of such journals.

These niches—defined by publishing volume and disciplinary diversity—are dynamic and varied over the relatively brief histories of the analyzed megajournals. Although the life sciences are the predominant contributor to megajournals, there is variation in the disciplinary composition of different megajournals.

The growth trajectories and disciplinary composition of generalist journals—including megajournals—reflect changing knowledge dissemination and reward structures in science.

URL : The diverse niches of megajournals: Specialism within generalism


Is It Such a Big Deal? On the Cost of Journal Use in the Digital Era

Authors : Fei Shu, Philippe Mongeon, Stefanie Haustein, Kyle Siler, Juan Pablo Alperin, Vincent Larivière

Commercial scholarly publishers promote and sell bundles of journals—known as big deals—that provide access to entire collections rather than individual journals. Following this new model, size of serial collections in academic libraries increased almost fivefold from 1986 to 2011.

Using data on library subscriptions and references made for a sample of North American universities, this study provides evidence that, while big deal bundles do decrease the mean price per subscribed journal, academic libraries receive less value for their investment.

We find that university researchers cite only a fraction of journals purchased by their libraries, that this fraction is decreasing, and that the cost per cited journal has increased.

These findings reveal how academic publishers use product differentiation and price strategies to increase sales and profits in the digital era, often at the expense of university and scientific stakeholders.

URL : Is It Such a Big Deal? On the Cost of Journal Use in the Digital Era