bias in manuscripts?

S L Forsburg nospamforsburg at salk.edu
Fri Oct 29 12:00:02 EST 1999


Lisa Vaillancourt wrote
> 
> >Does anyone know if any studies have been done of the relative
> >rejection rates of manuscripts by women versus men? I have sometimes
> >wondered if this could account for some of the differences in
> >publishing rates between the two groups, and for the reports that
> >women's papers tend to be longer and more "complete".

I don't know any study directly about paper submission.  However, 
I remember reading an article by a woman scientist who carried out an 
informal study where she sent the same CV (hers, as it happens) to
referees to solicit references for an award or tenure or
something similar.  Generally the man's CV was better received,
often judged outstanding, where the woman's CV (same CV) was
judged merely adequate.  Unfortunately I do not recall where I
read this--not on the 'net, or I'd have marked it.  

I'm a little puzzled how one could do such a study.  In my field
at least, everyone knows everyone, or at least their name--if you
sent my CV to people but changed the name, they would immediately 
know something was fishy just by looking at the publication list,
 because everyone knows what I work on.

Still, in some fields it may be more anonymous--I believe the woman
doing the study was an experimental psychologist of some sort.  

It wouldn't surprise me that there were unconscious as well
as overt biases against
women in publiction as well.  These days, peer review is more likely
to be a "pull up the ladder and keep them out" activity than a
"let's get all the people into the boat" function,
and all sorts of biases feed into that mindset.  Not only gender,
but institutional (we all suspect that the same paper from a big
university will do better than from a small university), national,
etc etc.

By the way the W-i-B launch page has some new entries....


-- 
-susan
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S L Forsburg, PhD  forsburg at salk.edu
Molecular Biology and Virology Lab          
The Salk Institute, La Jolla CA 
http://pingu.salk.edu/~forsburg/lab.html

Women in Biology Internet Launch Page
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