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Academic in-group bias in the top five economics journals

Abstract

This paper studies academic in-group bias in the top five economics journals. We examine citation counts for articles published in these journals during the years 2006–2015, and compare counts for articles written by in-group members versus out-group members, where in-group status is defined based on whether at least one author shares the journal’s institutional affiliation. We find that authors affiliated with Harvard and MIT receive fewer citation counts when their articles are published at the QJE compared to other top five journals. Moreover, articles published in the QJE by MIT authors receive fewer citation counts compared to articles written by out-group authors. Authors affiliated with Chicago and the UK do not receive fewer citation counts in the JPE and REStud, respectively. These results suggest that in-group bias exists in the QJE, but not in the JPE or REStud.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    We include all articles except those appearing in the May issue of the AER (the Papers and Proceedings issue).

  2. 2.

    In using natural log (citations + 1) we follow the convention in this literature. See, e.g., Thelwall and Wilson (2014), Ajiferuke and Famoye (2015) and Reingewertz and Lutmar (2018). This has no effect on our results, as can be seen, e.g., in Tables 5 and 6.

  3. 3.

    We define in-group authors for the JPE and REStud as faculty members from Chicago and the UK, respectively. For the QJE we consider faculty members from both MIT and Harvard because they might be considered an integrated research community, in part as a result of geographical proximity.

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Acknowledgements

The present study is based on a working paper by the same authors (Lutmar and Reingewertz 2020) which is available online at https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/104730/. We would like to thank James Heckman and Sidharth Moktan for helpful comments and suggestions.

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Correspondence to Yaniv Reingewertz.

Appendix

Appendix

See Fig. 2 and Tables 4, 5, 6.

Fig. 2
figure2

In-group vs. out-group—Google Scholar citations. Note: The blue bars indicate average citation counts for in-group authors publishing in their in-group journal. The red bars indicate average citation counts for in-group authors publishing in an out-group journal. The green bars indicate average citation counts for out-group authors publishing in the in-group journal. QJE- Harvard/MIT refers to the Harvard/MIT in-group, JPE-Chicago refers to the Chicago in-group and REStud-UK refers to the UK in-group

Table 4 Publication shares of in-group authors, by journal
Table 5 Robustness checks – WoS
Table 6 Robustness checks – Google Scholar citations

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Lutmar, C., Reingewertz, Y. Academic in-group bias in the top five economics journals. Scientometrics 126, 9543–9556 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-021-04174-9

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Keywords

  • Academic in-group bias
  • Top five
  • Economics journals
  • Editorial favoritism

JEL Classifications

  • A14
  • I23
  • O34