Saturday, January 19

Signs of Gender Bias in Reviews of Scientific Papers

Symphony orchestras discovered that female musicians had a better chance of succeeding at audition when their identity — and gender — was concealed. Now, researchers say, a similar tendency toward bias might be at work in scientific publishing, New Scientist reports (subscription required).

Bias long has been suspected of playing a role in influencing which scientific research gets published. To test whether this is true, a team at the University of Toronto led by Amber Budden looked at the journal Behavioral Ecology, which switched to a double-blind peer-review process in 2001. The study found that 8% more female authors had papers published once authors’ identities were hidden.

Dr. Budden says that while there might be other explanations for the discrepancy, she believes the findings should spur a debate about adopting anonymous review policies in scientific fields.

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