Do researchers, regardless of their location in the world, always receive adequate credit for their work?  Are they always listed as authors, especially in collaborative projects? In an increasingly globalized world, recognition of scientific contributions relies heavily on peer-reviewed publications.  However, inequality of publication patterns across geographic areas has been documented in medicine and other scientific fields.

Geographic bias may be especially evident in conservation biology, where tropical countries with the highest biodiversity tend to have the lowest economic income and thus are limited in the research they can afford to conduct and ultimately publish, in addition to language barriers.  Researchers from developed countries may work with these scientists but are researchers from developing countries given proper publication credit in terms of authorship?  Publication bias can stifle the flow of knowledge amid unfair appropriation of credit. To determine the extent of this bias, we are undertaking an innovative analysis of the published literature in plant genetics over the past 50 years.  This is a collaborative project with the Digital Scholarship Center (DSC) at UC and is supported by a grant from the Mellon Foundation.

We seek to investigate and bring to light inequalities that hinder not only scientists in locations with low economic resources and high biodiversity, but all researchers who rely on the knowledge generated by others. It is time for researchers to take notice of concealed biases that hinder progress and cooperation, so that together we can reduce publication inequality to maximize global research productivity.  In this study, our team of biologists and digital scholars apply novel methods developed in the humanities on big data to:

  • Investigate whether there is a publication bias against countries with low economic resources and high biodiversity
  • Identify potential demographic, socioeconomic, and/or environmental factors that may help to explain any discrepancies
  • Assess the type of genetic techniques used in relation to a country’s economic status
  • Characterize how these publication patterns involving researchers from developing countries may change over time


Project Members:
Dr. Theresa Culley – A&S Biological Sciences
Dr. James Lee –  A&S English and Digital Scholarship Center
Arlene Johnson –  UC Libraries and Digital Scholarship Center
Dr. Megan Philpott – Cincinnati Zoo and Botanic Garden
Ben Merritt – PhD candidate, A&S Biological Sciences
Jose Barreiro-Sanchez – PhD student, A&S Biological Sciences
Robert Tunison – MS student, A&S Biological Sciences
Dr. Maria Torres Quintero – A&S Biological Sciences
Marwa Ammar – Student, A&S Biological Sciences
Dr. Eric Tepe –  A&S Biological Sciences
Robert Elam – MS student, A&S