Gender differences in authorships are not associated with publication bias in an evolutionary journal

Hannah A. Edwards, Julia Schroeder, Hannah L. Dugdale

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27 Citations (Scopus)
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The loss of talented women from senior academic positions has partly resulted from a lower number of published papers and the accompanying reduced visibility of female compared to male scientists. The reasons for these gender-differences in authorship is unclear. One potential reason is a bias in the editorial and review process of scientific journals. We investigated whether patterns of authorship and editorial outcome were biased according to gender and geographic location in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology. Such potential bias may contribute to inequality in the field. We found patterns of gender differences in authorship, but this was unrelated to the editorial decision of whether to publish the manuscript. Female first-authors (the lead role) were six times less likely to be named as the corresponding author than male first-authors, and female first-authors were more likely to be displaced as corresponding authors by female co-authors than were male first-authors. We found an under-representation of female first- and last-authors compared to baseline populations of members of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (which publishes the Journal of Evolutionary Biology) and of Evolutionary Biology faculty at the world top-10 universities for the Life Sciences. Also, manuscripts from Asia were five times more likely to be rejected on the final decision, independent of gender. Overall our results suggest that the peer review processes we investigated at the Journal of Evolutionary Biology are predominately gender-neutral, but not neutral to geographic location. Editorial gender-bias is thus unlikely to be a contributing factor to differences in authorship in this journal.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0201725
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 29-Aug-2018
Externally publishedYes


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