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Is there a gender difference in scientific collaboration? A scientometric examination of co-authorships among industrial–organizational psychologists

“A first step in establishing your research agenda is to explicitly search for collaborators.”

(McCormick and Barnes 2007, p. 10).


In modern knowledge societies, scientific research is crucial, but expensive and often publicly financed. However, with regard to scientific research success, some studies have found gender differences in favor of men. To explain this, it has been argued that female researchers collaborate less than male researchers, and the current study examines this argument scientometrically. A secondary data analysis was applied to the sample of a recent scientometric publication (König et al. in Scientometrics 105:1931–1952, 2015. doi:10.1007/s11192-015-1646-y). The sample comprised 4234 (45 % female) industrial–organizational psychologists with their 46,656 publications (published from 1948 to 2013) and all of their approx. 100,000 algorithmically genderized collaborators (i.e., co-authors). Findings confirmed that (a) the majority of researchers’ publications resulted from collaborations, and (b) their engagement in collaborations was related to their scientific success, although not as clearly as expected (and partly even negatively). However, there was no evidence that a lack of female collaboration causes females’ lower scientific success. In fact, female researchers engage in more scientific collaborations. Our findings have important implications for science and society because they make gender differences in scientific success much harder to rationalize.

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  1. As we explain later, our sample of researchers is approximately gender-balanced.

  2. A mediator is a variable through which one variable influences another (Hayes 2013).

  3. A moderator is a variable that influences the association between two other variables (Hayes 2013).

  4. The following packages were used: car (Fox and Weisberg 2011), coin (Hothorn et al. 2008; see also Yatani 2014), (del Re 2013), descr (Aquino 2014, 2015), genderizeR (Wais 2015a, b), gsl (Hankin 2006), lattice (Sarkar 2008), lsr (Navarro 2015), pbabpply (Solymos 2014), plyr (Wickham 2011), psych (Revelle 2015), RCurl (Temple Lang 2015), robustbase (Rousseeuw et al. 2015), rockchalk (Johnson 2015), stargazer (Hlavac 2015), stringr (Wickham 2012), and XML (Temple Lang 2013).

  5. In PsycINFO, information on citations in the database itself is still only available for relatively few publications.


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We thank the supportive R community, Kamil Wais for helping us to use genderizeR, and Casper Strømgren for a sufficiently powerful subscription.

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Correspondence to Clemens B. Fell.

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Fell, C.B., König, C.J. Is there a gender difference in scientific collaboration? A scientometric examination of co-authorships among industrial–organizational psychologists. Scientometrics 108, 113–141 (2016).

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  • Gender differences
  • Collaboration
  • Research productivity
  • Scientific productivity
  • Impact
  • Networking

Mathematics Subject Classification

  • 62-07

JEL Classification

  • I24