Publishing's Prestige Bias

Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, Jan 20, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

A study reports that journals tend to disproportionately select papers by authors from elite institutions. This is not because the papers are better or more informed but because of "a strong bias towards a few elite institutions who exercise outsized influence not only on who gets tenure-track jobs but also in who gets published and where." We see this same bias expressed outside academia, where journalists and media preferentially quote academics from elite media, even to the point of giving them credit for others' discoveries. Publishers, not surprisingly, disagree, arguing the result is either trivial ("Whether the level (of bias), once documented, is sufficient to be a problem that requires a remedy is in the eye of the beholder") or false ("data that I see could be explained by differences in the raw number and quality of submitted manuscripts"). Both objections are addressed and refuted in the article.

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