Bibliometrics is the scientific investigation of the quality or impact of academic publications, based on data about research productivity and citation numbers. Bibliometric data is increasingly being used by research managers and academics to assess research excellence, and is assumed to be an objective basis for decisions about hiring, promotion, tenure, awarding grants, and as a marker of the quality of an individual’s research. However, empirical studies reveal that the concept of academic excellence is a social construct, is gendered and discriminates against women (Rees, 2011; van den Brink and Benshop, 2011).
There is conflicting evidence for and against bibliometrics being a technology that can harm (Brooks et al., 2014) or liberate female academics (van Arensbergen et al., 2012), the field of gender studies, and feminist scholarship. This research seminar paper will present a review of the literature on gender and bibliometrics, and gender and academic excellence.
The seminar will focus on gendered excellence in the social sciences and ultimately pose and answer the question, ‘Do we need a feminist bibliometrics?’ Is there a need for a fresh approach to bibliometrics and research evaluation that exposes and removes gendered assumptions and biases about what constitutes excellence in the academy? And what would a feminist bibliometrics look like?