Holding ourselves accountable: Overcoming bias in citation practices
For this month’s online FEM Lunch, we invite Sally Wyatt, Professor of Digital Cultures at FASoS, to discuss the hidden bias in citation practices.
Here’s what our speaker has to say about the Lunch:
“This session is prompted by my recent reading of Data Feminism by Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein (2020, The MIT Press). I can highly recommend the book to anyone interested in understanding more about data science and data ethics, and how intersectional feminism can be used to help data science work towards social justice. But that is not what I want to discuss during this session. At the end of their book, D’Ignazio and Klein reflect on their self-defined metrics for dealing with the structural problems that most concern them. In other words, they had set themselves targets for dealing with the following structural problems: racism, patriarchy, cissexism, heteronormativity, ableism, colonialism, classism, and proximity. Several of these involved their citation practices. For example, the patriarchy metric was to strive for 75% of all citations to be from women and nonbinary people.
There is a large literature about citation practices (from quantitative science studies, and science and technology studies). We know citation varies enormously between disciplines, in terms of volume and style. We have also learned that citation is a way of establishing credibility, acknowledging influences, and engaging in dialogue.
Prior to the session, think about your own citation practices, perhaps using these questions as prompts:
- How do you decide what to cite, because it is always a choice?
- Do you discuss the work of women and men differently? (I will give an example of this during the session.)
- What do you do as a reviewer when you think some crucial references are missing, especially if you wrote those crucial references? Obviously the editor recognises your contributions, even if the author didn’t.
- How do you respond as an author, if a reviewer suggests you include particular literature?
- How do you cite the insights of your direct colleagues, if you have mostly absorbed those insights through discussion rather than reading?
To get the discussion started, I will provide a short introduction, reflecting on the ways in which D’Ignazio and Klein held themselves accountable and including some of my own experiences. This will be followed by an open discussion, to share experiences and maybe also to define some metrics of our own.”