The Editorial ‘Working double-blind’ (Nature 451, 605–606; 2008), also republished on this blog and stimulating more than 70 comments, referred to a study (1) that found more female first-author papers were published using a double-blind, rather than a single-blind, peer-review system. The data reported in ref. 1 have now been re-examined (2). The conclusion of ref. 1, that Behavioral Ecology published more papers with female first authors after switching to a double-blind peer-review system, is not in dispute. However, ref. 2 reports that other similar ecology journals that have single-blind peer-review systems also increased in female first-author papers over the same time period. After re-examining the analyses, Nature has concluded that ref. 1 can no longer be said to offer compelling evidence of a role for gender bias in single-blind peer review. In addition, upon closer examination of the papers listed in PubMed on gender bias and peer review, we cannot find other strong studies that support this claim. Thus, we no longer stand by the statement in the fourth paragraph of the Editorial, that double-blind peer review reduces bias against authors with female first names.
1. Budden, A. E. et al . Trends Ecol. Evol. 23, 4–6 (2008).
2. Webb, T. J. , O’Hara, B. & Freckleton, R. P. Trends Ecol. Evol. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2008.03.003 (2008).