Imagine you receive a paper to review for a journal, and the author’s name jumps out at you as that of a Nobel prizewinner. Would you be more inclined to recommend the paper for publication than if, say, the author was a novice? Research published in September says yes: by a factor of six.
“That’s huge,” says study author Stefan Palan at the University of Graz in Austria. “Everyone expected an effect. But the size of the effect is really astonishing.”
Palan’s study on ‘status bias’ supports the idea that double-anonymized peer review — in which reviewers’ identities are kept hidden from the authors, and vice versa — produces more objective results. “I think double blind is the way to go,” says Palan, a finance researcher who serves as co-editor of the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, which uses mandatory double-anonymized review.
Increasing numbers of studies have examined the practice of peer review in recent years, unravelling issues such as gender bias (in which male authors receive higher acceptance rates than do female authors) and status bias (in which higher-profile authors get a boost), across different types of review.