Nobel and Novice: Author Prominence Affects Peer Review

41 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2022

See all articles by Juergen Huber

Juergen Huber

University of Innsbruck

Sabiou Inoua

Economic Science Institute, Chapman University

Rudolf Kerschbamer

University of Innsbruck; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Christian König-Kersting

University of Innsbruck

Stefan Palan

University of Graz

Vernon L. Smith

Chapman University - Economic Science Institute; Chapman University School of Law

Date Written: August 16, 2022

Abstract

Peer-review is a well-established cornerstone of the scientific process, yet it is not immune to status bias. Merton identified the problem as one in which prominent researchers get disproportionately great credit for their contribution while relatively unknown researchers get disproportionately little credit (Merton, 1968). We measure the extent of this effect in the peer-review process through a pre-registered field experiment. We invite more than 3,300 researchers to review a paper jointly written by a prominent author - a Nobel laureate - and by a relatively unknown author - an early-career research associate -, varying whether reviewers see the prominent author's name, an anonymized version of the paper, or the less well-known author's name. We find strong evidence for the status bias: while only 23 percent recommend “reject” when the prominent researcher is the only author shown, 48 percent do so when the paper is anonymized, and 65 percent do so when the little-known author is the only author shown. Our findings complement and extend earlier results on double-anonymized vs. single-anonymized review (Peters and Ceci, 1982; Blank, 1991; Cox et al., 1993; Okike et al., 2016; Tomkins et al., 2017; Card and Della Vigna, 2020) and strongly suggest that double-anonymization is a minimum requirement for an unbiased review process.

Keywords: peer review, scientific method, double-anonymized, status bias

JEL Classification: Y90, G00, A00

Suggested Citation

Huber, Juergen and M. Inoua, Sabiou and Kerschbamer, Rudolf and König-Kersting, Christian and Palan, Stefan and Smith, Vernon L., Nobel and Novice: Author Prominence Affects Peer Review (August 16, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4190976 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4190976

Juergen Huber

University of Innsbruck ( email )

Universitätsstraße 15
Innsbruck, Innsbruck 6020
Austria

Sabiou M. Inoua

Economic Science Institute, Chapman University ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866
United States

Rudolf Kerschbamer

University of Innsbruck ( email )

Universitaetsstrasse 15
Innsbruck, A - 6020
Austria
+43 512 507 7400 (Phone)
+43 512 507 2980 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.uibk.ac.at/c/c4/c409/staff/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Christian König-Kersting

University of Innsbruck ( email )

Universitätsstraße 15
Innsbruck, Innsbruck 6020
Austria

Stefan Palan (Contact Author)

University of Graz ( email )

Universitaetsstrasse 15/F2
Graz, 8010
Austria
+433163807306 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://academic.palan.biz

Vernon L. Smith

Chapman University - Economic Science Institute ( email )

One University Dr.
Orange, CA 92866
United States
714-628-2830 (Phone)

Chapman University School of Law ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866-1099
United States

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