Gender differences in patterns of authorship do not affect peer review outcomes at an ecology journal

Charles W. Fox, C. Sean Burns, Anna D. Muncy, Jennifer A. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


There is a widespread perception in the academic community that peer review is subject to many biases and can be influenced by the identity and biographic features (such as gender) of manuscript authors. We examined how patterns of authorship differ between men and women, and whether author gender influences editorial and peer review outcomes and/or the peer review process for papers submitted to the journal Functional Ecology between 2010 and 2014. Women represented approximately a third of all authors on papers submitted to Functional Ecology. Relative to overall frequency of authorship, women were underrepresented as solo authors (26% were women). On multi-authored papers, women were also underrepresented as last/senior authors (25% were women) but overrepresented as first authors (43% were women). Women first authors were less likely than men first authors to serve as corresponding and submitting author of their papers; this difference was not influenced by the gender of the last author. Women were more likely to be authors on papers if the last author was female. Papers with female authors (i) were equally likely to be sent for peer review, (ii) obtained equivalent peer review scores and (iii) were equally likely to be accepted for publication, compared to papers with male authors. There was no evidence that male editors or male reviewers treated papers authored by women differently than did female editors and reviewers, and no evidence that more senior editors reached different decisions than younger editors after review, or cumulative through the entire process, for papers authored by men vs. women. Papers authored by women were more likely to be reviewed by women. This is primarily because women were more likely to be invited to review if the authors on a paper were female than if the authors were male. Patterns of authorship, and the role undertaken as author (e.g., submitting and serving as corresponding author), differ notably between men and women for papers submitted to Functional Ecology. However, consistent with a growing body of literature indicating that peer review underlying the scholarly publishing process is largely gender-neutral, outcomes of editorial and peer review at Functional Ecology were not influenced by author gender.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-139
Number of pages14
JournalFunctional Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 British Ecological Society.


  • Authorship
  • Gender bias
  • Gender discrimination
  • Peer review
  • Women in science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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