YoungFemaleScientist: Men publish in better journals than women

YoungFemaleScientist is reporting that men tend to publish in better journals than women. She goes on to explain this fact:

We all know why that might be:

  1. Nepotism in publishing. It’s an old boys network, therefore the boys are more likely to know each other.
  2. Uh, women read more than men. Come on, you know it’s generally true. We read faster and we read more. So we’re likely to think it doesn’t matter so much where our papers go, because people will read them anyway. And the truth is- they will. At least, other women will!

    (Via Stiber.)

    She is clearly joking around. Some conversation follows about moving to industry or leaving science. Unfortunately, if there is any discrimination in academic research, it is likely to exist as well in industry.

    I find this discussion to be a bit interesting because where we choose to publish probably tells a lot about our views. I would never assume, for example, that people would not consider my work because it has been publish at a lower venue nor do I assume that work appearing in the best journal will necessarily get read. And indeed, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that when interesting work is published a minor workshops, it can become highly cited. Likewise, significant work published in prestigious journals often take years to be recognized.

    So, why bother with prestigious journals and conferences? Other than the stupid reasons (securing a job or getting a grant), there is one good reason: the best conferences tend to have better peer review. By better, I do not mean less biased, it could be that better conferences have more biases than lesser ones, but they have a more knowledgeable and more critical program committee. While we are at it, why not submit to journals and forgo conferences? Because journals are too slow. I have a journal paper submitted in 2004 in a good journal, and I’m still waiting to see what kind of feedback I will get!

    If there is any point to peer review, for me, it is not prestige, but rather getting quality feedback so I can improve my work. I will submit to whatever journals or conferences can provide quality feedback in a timely manner. As for the rest, I trust the system as much as it should be trusted: significant work will eventually be found out, wherever it appears, or so we should hope. I do not think there is much significant work being done out there, so I’m not very concerned that what little significant work I do will be lost. Beautiful and deep ideas tend to travel well, no matter where they start from.

    Published by

    Daniel Lemire

    A computer science professor at the Université du Québec (TELUQ).