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Outsider bias: how your name influences the peer review process
  1. Sawsan Abdel-Razig1,2,
  2. Halah Ibrahim3
  1. 1Office of Academics, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, UAE
  2. 2Department of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
  3. 3Khalifa University College of Medicine And Health Sciences, Abu Dhabi, UAE
  1. Correspondence to Dr Halah Ibrahim, Khalifa University College of Medicine And Health Sciences, Abu Dhabi, UAE; halah.ibrahim{at}

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The peer review process serves as a major determinant of the biomedical literature, forming the foundation for scientific dissemination and the advancement of knowledge. Its outputs direct further research and funding, inform clinical practice and ultimately impact patient lives. Yet, it is not without flaws. Peer review outcomes can also be sensitive to editorial behaviour.1 As such, reviewer and editorial board bias can impact publication outcomes.1 Explicit biases have been documented, such as ideological bias, which arises when an editor or reviewer has a strong view for or against an author’s findings.2 In recent years, implicit biases have received increased attention. The gender publication bias is an important example, where disparities have been described at all levels of the process, including fewer women on journal editorial boards and serving as peer reviewers, delays in review time for manuscripts with women corresponding authors, and under-representation of women as first and senior authors in medical research publications.3 Many studies have also documented higher acceptance rates for manuscripts written by authors from English-speaking countries,4 5 contributing to the publication gap between high-income and lower-income and middle-income countries (LMICs).6

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  • Contributors SA-R and HI conceived the manuscript; SA-R wrote the first draft; HI revised the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final draft.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.