Language and socioeconomics predict geographic variation in peer review outcomes at an ecology journal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Papers submitted by scientists located in western nations generally fare better in the peer review process than do papers submitted by scientists from elsewhere. This paper examines geographic variation in peer review outcomes (whether a manuscript is sent for review, review scores obtained, and final decisions by editors) for 3529 submissions over a 4.5 year period at the journal Functional Ecology. In particular, we test whether geographic variation in language and socioeconomics are adequate to explain most or are all of this variation. There was no relationship between the geographic regions of handling editors and the decisions to send papers for review or invite revision, but there was substantial variation among author geographic locations; generally papers from first authors located in Oceania, the United States, and the United Kingdom fared better, and papers from first authors located in Africa, Asia, and Latin America fared worst. Language and the Human Development Index (HDI) explained the geographic variation in the proportion of papers sent for review, but socioeconomics alone (HDI) was the best predictor of mean review scores obtained by papers and whether authors were invited to submit a revision. Though we cannot exclude a role for editor and reviewer biases against authors based on their geographic location, variation in socioeconomics and language explain much of the variation in manuscript editorial and peer review outcomes among authors from different regions of the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1113-1127
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary.


  • Geographic bias
  • Human development index
  • Language bias
  • Peer review
  • Socioeconomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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