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Reviewers and editors favor scientific papers from those of their gender or nationality, study says

by Cheryl Hogue
September 3, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 35


Editors and peer reviewers of scientific journals favor manuscripts from authors of their gender or nationality, a study concludes. In an analysis posted on the preprint server bioRxiv, a team led by Dakota Murray of the University of Indiana, Bloomington, examined thousands of papers submitted to the biosciences journal eLife between 2012 and 2017 (bioRxiv 2018, DOI: 10.1101/400515). Murray and his colleagues found that women and authors from outside North America and Europe were underrepresented as editors and peer reviewers and as authors listed last on papers. They note that previous work shows the underrepresentation of these two groups as editors and peer reviewers is common at international scientific journals and not just eLife. When the researchers evaluated the gender balance of editors and peer reviewers for individual papers, they found that participation of men and women led to more diversity in authors of published papers. Murray and colleagues note that though the disparities they found in peer review outcomes are modest, the differences can be compounded through all the stages of manuscript review. The researchers have submitted their study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, to PLOS Biology.


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