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An examination of 1.7 million JSTOR papers spanning across disciplines and over 60 years found that nearly 10% of citations were self-citations.
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.
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?
One 2007 study reported in Scientometrics showed that it does, with each self-citation multiplying into three other citations to that author over a five-year period.
Further, the penalties for excessive self-citation seem to be small or none.
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?
I am certainly not qualified to address such heady questions, but regardless of cause, the issue of gender disparity in self-citations has career consequences.
In the age of Big Data, success breeds success, and popularity snowballs.