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Men are more likely than women to call their science “excellent”

Male scientists are more likely than female colleagues to use language framing their research findings as “excellent”, “novel” and “unique”. These are the findings of an analysis led by an international team of researchers at the University of Mannheim, the Harvard Medical School, and Yale University, published Dec. 16 in BMJ.

The researchers analyzed more than 6 million peer-reviewed clinical and life science publications and found that papers with male lead authors were up to 21 percent more likely to use positive framing—language that casts the findings as highly significant —in titles and abstracts than those with female lead authors.

The study, which used natural language processing to parse the papers’ language, found that the titles and abstracts of research led by men were more likely to use words such as “excellent,” “novel” and “unique” than research led by women. The research also shows that papers using such framing had up to 13 percent more citations by other researchers than papers without the positive spin.

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