Gender Differences in How Scientists Present the Importance of Their Research: Observational Study

Marc J. Lerchenmueller, Olav Sorenson, Anupam B. Jena

Objective:  Women remain underrepresented on faculties of medicine and the life sciences more broadly. Whether gender differences in self presentation of clinical research exist and may contribute to this gender gap has been challenging to explore empirically. The objective of this study was to analyze whether men and women differ in how positively they frame their research findings and to analyze whether the positive framing of research is associated with higher downstream citations.

Conclusions: Clinical articles involving a male first or last author were more likely to present research findings positively in titles and abstracts compared with articles in which both the first and last author were women, particularly in the highest impact journals. Positive presentation of research findings was associated with higher downstream citations.

BMJ 2019;367:l6573


How Women Undersell Their Work

Marc J. Lerchenmueller, Olav Sorenson, Anupam B. Jena

Many factors contribute to the gender disparities in academia. Productivity differences, however, cannot account for them. Instead, research suggests that women receive less recognition than men for equivalent accomplishments. Just why they receive less attention has been an open question. Our study examined whether women and men differ in the degree to which they promote – or spin – their accomplishments by using positive terms like “novel,” “unique,” or “unprecedented” when describing their research. We document that women use fewer of these positive adjectives in research articles, particularly at earlier career stages. These differences in presentation, in turn, appear to influence the amount of attention that their articles receive.


The Gender Gap in Early Career Transitions in the Life Sciences

Marc J. Lerchenmueller and Olav Sorenson

We examined the extent to which and why early career transitions have led to women being underrepresented among faculty in the life sciences. We followed the careers of 6,336 scientists from the post-doctoral fellowship stage to becoming a principal investigator (PI) – a critical transition in the academic life sciences. Using a unique dataset that connects individuals’ National Institutes of Health funding histories to their publication records, we found that a large portion of the overall gender gap in the life sciences emerges at this transition. Women become PIs at a 20% lower rate than men. Differences in “productivity” (publication records) can explain about 60% of this differential. The remaining portion appears to stem from gender differences in the returns to similar publication records, with women receiving less credit for their citations.

Research Policy, 47 (2018): 1007-1017

Highly cited status (top 1%) in Web of Science (2020)


Long-Term Analysis of Sex Differences in Prestigious Authorships in Cardiovascular Research Supported by the National Institutes of Health

Carolin Lerchenmüller, Marc J. Lerchenmueller, Olav Sorenson*

Women remain underrepresented on life science faculties in general, and on cardiovascular research faculties in particular. Whether differences in prestigious authorships contribute to this gender gap remains unclear. We analyzed 63,636 authorships on NIH-R01-supported articles across 107 cardiovascular journals indexed in PubMed to estimate the relative risk (RR) of first and last authorship for women relative to men. We analyzed how the RR varied over 30 years, focusing on studies in cardiovascular research, but we also extended our analysis to 2,699,061 authorships on R01-supported articles across 3,849 journals indexed in PubMed and sub-analyzed the RR for journals of different impact. In cardiology, women’s likelihood of first authorship improved from being about 20% less likely to being 5% more likely to earn first authorships relative to men. Meanwhile, women remained about 50% less likely to earn last authorships. Across the life sciences, women have come to earn first authorships up to a 20% higher rate than men, while the likelihood of last authorship remained low, similar to cardiovascular research.

*Author order alphabetical

Circulation,137 (2018): 880-882


Junior Female Scientists Aren’t Getting the Credit They Deserve

Marc J. Lerchenmueller and Olav Sorenson

Women earn about half of life science doctorates, but only about 20% of them land full professorships and a mere 15% serve as department chairs at medical schools. Two studies explored women’s early career advancement by looking at gender differences in publications and research funding. Both studies suggest that women face real barriers to advancing in the life sciences, and these are apparent early on in their careers.


Author Disambiguation in PubMed: Evidence on the Precision and Recall of Author-ity among NIH-Funded Scientists

Marc J. Lerchenmueller and Olav Sorenson

We examined the usefulness (precision) and completeness (recall) of the Author-ity author disambiguation for PubMed articles by associating articles with scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We found that Author-ity identified the NIH scientists with 99.51% precision across the articles. It had a corresponding recall of 99.64%.

PLoS One, 11 (2016): e0158731