US and non-US submissions: an analysis of reviewer bias

JAMA. 1998 Jul 15;280(3):246-7. doi: 10.1001/jama.280.3.246.


Context: Reviewers increasingly are asked to review manuscripts from outside their own country, but whether they are more likely to recommend acceptance of such manuscripts is not known.

Objective: To assess whether US reviewers or non-US reviewers evaluate manuscripts differently, depending on whether the manuscripts are submitted from outside the United States or from the United States.

Design and setting: A retrospective analysis of all original submissions received by Gastroenterology in 1995 and 1996. Reviewers ranked manuscripts in 4 decision categories: accept, provisionally accept, reject with resubmission, or reject.

Main outcome measure: Ranking of papers based on nationality of authors and reviewers.

Results: The percentage of non-US manuscripts placed in each decision category by US (n = 2355) and non-US reviewers (n = 1297) was nearly identical (P= .31). However, US reviewers recommended acceptance of papers submitted by US authors more often than did non-US reviewers (P=.001). Non-US reviewers ranked US papers slightly more favorably than non-US papers (P=.09), while US reviewers ranked US papers much more favorably (P=.001).

Conclusions: Reviewers from the United States and outside the United States evaluate non-US papers similarly and evaluate papers submitted by US authors more favorably, with US reviewers having a significant preference for US papers.

MeSH terms

  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Peer Review*
  • Publication Bias*
  • Publishing / standards
  • Quality Control
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States