Citation politics is about maintaining sameness in academic research.
Caucasian, male, hetrosexual researchers are commonly cited more. Women, LGBTIQA+, people of colour and other minority researchers are cited less. Much less. This has implications for new directions of research and limits what information and ideas feed into new research outputs. Rather than broadly expanding knowledge, new research tends to be limited to a dominant demographic and worldview.
There are other implications too.
For better, or, likely, worse, citations hold sway in academia. They determine scholarly reputation. They identify whose work matters and has significance. They offer prestige in what is clearly a prestige economy. Citations matter (Baker, 2019).
The number of citations an article receives is a common measure of researcher impact. High citation counts give value to research, even if the research is flawed or fraudulent. A 1998 article with over 3,600 citations was retracted from The Lancet for fraudulent research. The article was highly cited because subsequent scholars denounced the work. Even negative citations, if high, get a high profile. The article in question resulted in the undermining of public confidence in vaccines.
Citation can used to support academic freedom.
Gender, race and religious bias will be reflected in a citation list. When looking at your citation list, ask yourself:
Who we cite matters because citation reproduces the inequalities in our disciplines or scholarship, as well as the larger world. Our citations can affirm the white supremacist patriarchy of the academy. Or citations can function as a powerful corrective; they can counter inequality rather than maintain it (Baker, 2019).
How to look further than the usual narrow range of authors:
We acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where our staff and students, live, learn and work.