Via Feminist Philosophers and The Economist, I just learned of a recent study on gender and citations in political science. In political science, the study finds, women's papers tend to be cited less often than men's papers are, even "after controlling for a large number of variables including year of publication, venue of publication, substantive focus, theoretical perspective, methodology, tenure status, and institutional affiliation." The average paper in the study garnered 35 citations, but papers authored by men averaged five more citations than those authored by women. The study's authors suggest that this "is likely because (1) women tend to cite themselves less than men, and (2) men (who make up a disproportionate share of IR [international relations] scholars) tend to cite men more than women."
One of the study's authors—and the only woman of the three—reports some anecdotal evidence to The Economist that "women see self-citation as a form of self-promotion, and thus look down on it. Men see it the same way, but draw different conclusions."
I've cited myself in a few papers, and I have felt a little bit weird about it. Self-promotion (even in a purely descriptive, non-pejorative sense) does make me somewhat uncomfortable, though I think it is sometimes valuable to me and to others. But in the end, I chose to cite my previous work because it was relevant. The papers in which I cite my earlier work tend to be extensions on that earlier work. I don't want to repeat everything I said earlier—a form of self-plagiarism, in a sense—so I simply point the reader to my other papers.
Do you (or would you) cite yourself? Is it a form of self-promotion? If so, (when) is it an objectionable form of self-promotion?