Publication and Citation Rates of Female Earthquake Engineers

There are two companion articles up in Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering on publication rates and citation statistics in that field. The first analyzes the careers of 51 highly esteemed senior researchers and examines citation patterns in earthquake engineering generally, while the second looks specifically at female faculty (links only good if your institution has shelled out to every scientist’s favorite weaponsmongering publisher).

What’s notable about the second article is that there are so few female faculty in earthquake engineering that it is impossible to draw meaningful conclusions about them without being very, very picky about how one selects a male peer group. Since Trifunac instead compared them to the group of accomplished senior faculty from his first paper and to the male average (which is demographically quite different from the female faculty sample), he’s not able to say much other than that the best female faculty are able to compete with the best male faculty.

I can’t remember if I’ve said this before, but if I haven’t, it was a terrible oversight: the truly talented can usually overcome adversity, but when giftless female hacks regularly rise to the same level of incompetence as giftless male hacks, then we will have made real progress.


  1. John Vidale wrote:

    I like Trifunac’s footnote #2:

    Ray Bowen, assistant director for engineering at the National Science Foundation said that this “does suggest that a lot of work is generally without utility in the short-term sense.” Frank Press, the president of the National Academy of Sciences, noted that “there are obvious concerns which are worrisome—namely that the work is redundant, it’s me-too type of follow-on papers, or the journals are printing too much.” To J. Duderstadt, University of Michigan President, the growing number of journals and the high number of uncited articles simply confirm a suspicion that academic culture encourages spurious publication. “It is pretty strong evidence of how fragmented scientific work has become, and the kinds of pressures which drive people to stress number of publications rather than quality of publications.” “The obvious interpretation is that the publish-or-perish syndrome is still operating in force,” said David Helfand the chairman of the astronomy department at Columbia University, while the editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society Allen Bard concluded that “in many ways, publication no longer represents a way of communicating with your scientific peers, but a way to enhance your status and accumulate points for promotion and grants”.

  2. yami wrote:

    Heh. I actually assumed that civil engineering’s low citation rates are due to the field’s propensity for work that is mainly useful to industry…

  3. Lab Lemming wrote:

    Speaking of Female earthquake engineers, did Lynn Salvati leave Berkeley before you got there?

  4. yami wrote:


  5. Lab Lemming wrote:

    Is it possible that low engineering citation rates are related to engineers’ inability to read?

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