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PLoS One. 2008 Sep 12;3(9):e3202. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003202.

Systematic variation in reviewer practice according to country and gender in the field of ecology and evolution.

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Department of Biology, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The characteristics of referees and the potential subsequent effects on the peer-review process are an important consideration for science since the integrity of the system depends on the appropriate evaluation of merit. In 2006, we conducted an online survey of 1334 ecologists and evolutionary biologists pertaining to the review process. Respondents were from Europe, North America and other regions of the world, with the majority from English first language countries. Women comprised a third of all respondents, consistent with their representation in the scientific academic community. Among respondents we found no correlation between the time typically taken over a review and the reported average rejection rate. On average, Europeans took longer over reviewing a manuscript than North Americans, and females took longer than males, but reviewed fewer manuscripts. Males recommended rejection of manuscripts more frequently than females, regardless of region. Hence, editors and potential authors should consider alternative sets of criteria, to what exists now, when selecting a panel of referees to potentially balance different tendencies by gender or region.

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