Old boy network?


  • Elaine Friebele


Ideally, peer review is an objective process. In reality, scientists who are male or have a connection to the reviewer receive higher peer review scores than their counterparts with equal qualifications. These findings were published in the May 22 issue of Nature, by Swedish researchers Christine Wennerås and Agnes Wold, who obtained access to peer-reviewers'scores for postdoctoral fellowship applications to the Swedish Medical Research Council in 1995. Using six independent, objective criteria of “scientific productivity,”Wennerås and Wold, of the University of Goteborg, Sweden, found that women systematically scored significantly lower in the peer review process than men for the same level of scientific productivity. Applicants who were associated with reviewers also scored consistently better than those who were not. Scores were not significantly affected by the education, nationality, field of research, or postdoctoral experience of the applicant.