The Hard Numbers Behind Scholarly Publishing (Chronicle Repost)

When Jennifer Jacquet first visited Carl T. Bergstrom’s evolutionary-biology lab at the University of Washington last year, she was surrounded by men. Men staring at data on the 27-inch Mac Pro computer screen that takes center stage in the lab. Men talking about mathematical proofs, about a South Park episode on evolution, about their latest mountain-climbing adventures.

“The lab is like visiting a fraternity,” says Ms. Jacquet, who completed her postdoc at the University of British Columbia before starting this year as a clinical assistant professor in environmental studies at New York University.

Perhaps being the only woman in the lab prompted Ms. Jacquet’s answer when Mr. Bergstrom, a professor of theoretical and evolutionary biology, asked her what should be done with a remarkable new trove of data. Mr. Bergstrom and Jevin D. West, a postdoc, had just gotten their hands on nearly eight million scholarly articles collected by J­STOR, a digital archiving service. They went all the way back to Isaac Newton’s time.

The biologists at Washington, who specialize in using mathematical models and computer simulations to see how academic ideas flow through networks of scholars, wondered how they could use the data.

For Ms. Jacquet, the answer was clear: What did the articles and their authors show about gender differences in publishing? Were women and men equal in this fundamental coin of the academic realm, a currency that buys tenure, promotions, and career success?

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