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Meta-Research: Weak evidence of country- and institution-related status bias in the peer review of abstracts

  1. Mathias Wullum Nielsen  Is a corresponding author
  2. Christine Friis Baker
  3. Emer Brady
  4. Michael Bang Petersen
  5. Jens Peter Andersen
  1. University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. Aarhus University, Denmark
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Cite this article as: eLife 2021;10:e64561 doi: 10.7554/eLife.64561

Abstract

Research suggests that scientists based at prestigious institutions receive more credit for their work than scientists based at less prestigious institutions, as do scientists working in certain countries. We examined the extent to which country- and institution-related status signals drive such differences in scientific recognition. In a preregistered survey experiment, we asked 4,147 scientists from six disciplines (astronomy, cardiology materials science, political science, psychology and public health) to rate abstracts that varied on two factors: i) author country (high status vs lower status in science); ii) author institution (high status vs lower status university). We found only weak evidence of country- or institution-related status bias, and mixed regression models with discipline as random-effect parameter indicated that any plausible bias not detected by our study must be small in size.

Data availability

All data and code needed to evaluate the conclusions are available here: https://osf.io/x4rj8/.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Mathias Wullum Nielsen

    Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
    For correspondence
    mwn@soc.ku.dk
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-8759-7150
  2. Christine Friis Baker

    Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-3370-021X
  3. Emer Brady

    Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-6065-8096
  4. Michael Bang Petersen

    Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, Aarhus University, Denmark
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-6782-5635
  5. Jens Peter Andersen

    Danish Centre for Studies on Research and Research Policy, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-2444-6210

Funding

Carlsbergfondet (CF19-0566)

  • Mathias Wullum Nielsen

Aarhus Universitets Forskningsfond (AUFF-F-2018-7-5)

  • Christine Friis Baker
  • Emer Brady
  • Jens Peter Andersen

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Human subjects: Aarhus University's Institutional Review Board approved the study. We obtained informed consent from all participants (case no. 2019-616-000014)

Reviewing Editor

  1. Peter Rodgers, eLife, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: November 3, 2020
  2. Accepted: March 8, 2021
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: March 18, 2021 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: March 30, 2021 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2021, Nielsen et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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