Mind the (submission) gap: EPSR gender data and female authors publishing perceptions


The publication pattern of EPSR confirms the findings of established scholarship on gender and publishing; women publish less than men (roughly, 30% to 70%). This gap reflects a previous submission gap; i.e., men submit even much more than women do. EPSR editorial process does not show signs of discrimination: single or leading female authors have significantly lower desk rejection rates than their male counterparts in similar configurations. Women though, are underrepresented as peer reviewers and EPSR has taken measures to redress this situation. Looking at women authors perceptions, findings (that cannot be considered representative), are consistent with existing scholarship. Women authors perceive themselves as more perfectionist and more risk adverse, they also perceive that they can dedicate less time to research, and they express mistrust in the blind review process. As a general conclusion, whilst reversing the gender gap requires structural action beyond and before the editorial process, journal editors must consider forms to secure more extensive women inclusion in publications.

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    Reviewers can choose the option “I prefer not to say” when declaring their gender; hence, these figures are not complete. EPSR lacks data for around 36% (239) of initially invited reviewers because they do not have to fill in their personal data if they are not going to use ScholarOne©.

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    We only collected data about those reviewers who at least once have accepted an invitation to review for the journal, consequently providing information about gender within a user account. The platform monitors their responses to further invitations as well. However, it does not record such information about many other invitees who declined without having an active user account. Given these limitations, the data above refer to a sample of 3343 reviewers (out of the total of 7224 ever-invited reviewers).

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    Same limitations apply. A significant share of those who decline an invitation does so without having completed a user profile on the platform; therefore, the full share of female academics among these remains unrecorded.

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    For instance, I’m one of those people that tends to sit on (papers) for too long. I re-work and re-work, whereas you could probably send it in an early stage and then use the feedback you get in the review process. (…). Interview 5.

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    Interview 10.

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    Interview 16.

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    Interview 18.

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    Interview 5, Interview 15.

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    ‘Most of the work had been done by me in terms of both writing and empirics. Then, after the presentation, people asked questions, he replied, (…) and no one gave me the opportunity to talk (…) It was the first time I realised that as a young women in political science you are less legitimate to talk when you’re in an assembly of men’ Interview 3.

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    ‘If I check the work I cite, it is overwhelmingly men, and of course many women do good research in my field (…) It is this kind of unconscious bias that we all have, that we tend to give more weight to what a man says’ Interview 7.

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    ‘Another factor that takes time away from research is the family, and this is completely ignored in the publishing business (…) One time, (we received a R&R from a journal) when my co-author and I were both on maternity leave (…) So we said “we cannot deliver within the deadline, but we definitely want to revise it”, and we explained the situation. (…) The editors were two men, who write back declining our request’. Interview 4.


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Closa, C., Moury, C., Novakova, Z. et al. Mind the (submission) gap: EPSR gender data and female authors publishing perceptions. Eur Polit Sci 19, 428–442 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41304-020-00250-5

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  • Gender gap in publications
  • Political science women authors
  • Female reviewers