What’s in a name? Insiders, outsiders and peer-reviewed publications

Oh my. Some experimenters in psychology took previously published articles from, “investigators from prestigious and highly productive American psychology departments” that appeared in, “highly regarded and widely read American psychology journals with high rejection rates (80%) and nonblind refereeing practices.”

They then re-submitted those exact articles for publication with different, less prestigious, names and affiliations attached “e.g., Tri-Valley Center for Human Potential”.

The results?

“Of the sample of 38 editors and reviewers, only three (8%) detected the resubmissions. This result allowed nine of the 12 articles to continue through the review process to receive an actual evaluation: eight of the nine were rejected. Sixteen of the 18 referees (89%) recommended against publication and the editors concurred. The grounds for rejection were in many cases described as “serious methodological flaws.””

Only 3 of the 12 were even recognized as already published? 8 of the remaining 9 were rejected when the only difference was name and affiliation?

People, Rogoff-Reinhart syndrome goes well beyond automatic favorable exposure in non peer reviewed outlets. Name and affiliation can carry considerable weight in refereed outlets as well.

And maybe they should. The average Harvard professor is clearly better than the average OU professor.

So is it just cream rising to the top or is it an exclusionary club? And does the study I’ve described help answer that question? Tell me in the comments.

5 thoughts on “What’s in a name? Insiders, outsiders and peer-reviewed publications

  1. I can’t get on my proxy right now, but did they resubmit with prestigious names and affiliations? ie, is rejection just totally random? Is the 89% rejection rate significantly different from the journal’s overall 80%+ rate?

    • No, they took published papers by prestigious names and resubmitted them as new pieces by obscure (fictitious) names.

  2. The fact that the only field they chose to do this in was psychology is disappointing as it would be interesting to see the effect of name in more or less “scientific” disciplines. One possible conclusion from this study is that the domain of “psychology” is mumbo-jumbo and hence particularly susceptible to spurious name effects. If this were done specific domains of physics, mathematics, chemistry, economics, linguistics, etc. then it might get interesting.

  3. It might be obvious to say what’s in the name sort of thing, but in reality we must know that everything is in name. I am working with OctaFX broker and due to their service I get great profits, so it is only their name which is enough for me and I never really want to try any other broker especially through their low spreads starting from 0.2 pips to high leverage up to 1.500 plus much more including smooth trading platform where I can work easily.

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