The Influence of 'Cognitive Distance' on Peer Review Decisions

Start of the project: 01-Oct-2016 - End of the project: 30-Sept-2019

p>Much attention has been paid to the fairness of the peer review process. It is commonly accepted that personal characteristics such as age, sex, or nationality should not influence the evaluation of journal submissions and grant applications. However, the effects of 'cognitive distance', i.e. a 'cognitive bias', understood as an effect of the entrenched attitudes towards the research of others, have been studied much less thoroughly. The difference between the evaluator’s own research and education and those of the evaluee has been claimed to have an impact on the way they are judged. Previous qualitative and very small quantitative studies suggested that 'cognitive rivalry' and 'cognitive nepotism', contemptuous and 'laissez-faire' attitudes towards other scientific communities, all may influence review decisions. Different disciplinary cultures and the extent of divisiveness between scientific (sub-)communities may partially explain the tensions between these effects.

The project aims to put these claims to a test, both in the context of editorial peer review and grant application processes, placing reviewers and evaluees in their common disciplinary network constructed with bibliometric data. Using network analysis methods to ascertain the attributes of this network and the distance between the two actors combined with respective evaluation results from peer review processes, a quantitative approach is used in order to gauge how and how much these properties impact on review outcomes.

Thus, the project aims to explicate the concept of 'cognitive distance' and to explore the possibilities to operationalize it with novel bibliometric methods.

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Whole project

Presentations

Using the concept of 'distance' to identify and explore 'regimes of knowledge production'.

Hartstein, J. (2018, Juni).
Using the concept of 'distance' to identify and explore 'regimes of knowledge production'. Vortrag auf der Veranstaltung 'Regimes of knowledge production', 07.-08.06.2018, Technische Universität Berlin.

Modelling 'cognitive distance' in the context of research on evaluation practices.

Hartstein, J. (2017, September).
Modelling 'cognitive distance' in the context of research on evaluation practices. Vortrag auf der 3rd European Conference on Social Networks (EUSN), 26.-29. September 2017, Johannes-Guttenberg-Universität, Mainz.

Lead Researcher

Martin Reinhart
Prof. Dr. Martin Reinhart Lead Researcher +49 30 2093666-15

Press contact

Daniel Matthes
Daniel Matthes +49 511 450670-532
To press section

Funded by

Bundeministerium für Bildung und Forschung