Taking Part in The Conversation: Bias in the Publishing Pipeline

Scientific Journals

“‘Publish or perish’ is tattooed on the mind of every academic,” write Ione Fine, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, and Alicia Shen, a PhD candidate in psychology at the University of Washington, in a recent article published on The Conversation. This piece, titled “Perish not publish? New study quantifies the lack of female authors in scientific journals,” breaks down a recent study that analyzed the percentage of male and female authors published in academic publications, specifically Science and Nature. The results show a fairly skewed representation.

When analyzing the gender of the author listed last on a study (typically the laboratory leader), Fine and Shen expected “the numbers to match large National Institutes of Health grants, which are a similarly rigorous measure of significance, scientific sophistication and productivity.” Thirty percent of these are awarded to women. Instead, they found that only around 15 percent of authors listed last were women.

There is some evidence that this bias occurs partly in the reviewing process. The article states, “Researchers at the Ohio State University found that, when reviewers are randomly assigned to evaluate scientific work ostensibly submitted by a female or a male author, they rated the work written by male authors as having higher rigor.” This may explain part of the disproportionate ratio of male to female authors.

To read more about bias within the publishing industry and why it is important to hold journals accountable for who they publish, see the full article at: https://theconversation.com/perish-not-publish-new-study-quantifies-the-lack-of-female-authors-in-scientific-journals-92999