Association Between Author Prominence and Peer Reviewers’ Willingness to Review and Their Evaluations of Manuscripts Submitted to a Finance Journal

Jürgen Huber,1 Sabiou Inoua,2 Rudolf Kerschbamer,3 Christian König-Kersting,1 Stefan Palan,4 Vernon L. Smith2


Merton1 argued that “eminent scientists get disproportionately great credit for their contribution to science while relatively unknown scientists tend to get disproportionately little credit for comparable contributions.” In this context, this study asked (1) is there a status bias in reviewers’ propensity to accept review invitations? and (2) is there a status bias in their evaluation of the paper?


A manuscript written by Vernon Smith (Nobel laureate, high prominence) and Sabiou Inoua (young researcher, low prominence) was submitted to the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance for peer review. The paper was assigned to 3299 reviewers randomized into 5 conditions: (1) no author name in the invitation email or on the manuscript’s title page (treatment: AA; 576 reviewers); (2) high-prominence author name on manuscript only (AH; 696); (3) low-prominence author name on manuscript only (AL; 739); (4) high-prominence author name on both email and manuscript (HH; 507); and (5) low-prominence author name on both email and manuscript (LL; 781). To avoid confounding, only 1 name was shown in the email and on the manuscript, and the author was always designated as the corresponding author. Reviewers gave consent to being part of the study prior to accessing the paper. Those who submitted a report were debriefed after the study. Reviewers’ decisions to accept the invitation in response to anonymized (AA, AH, AL) vs nonanonymized (LL, HH) emails were compared using Fisher exact tests. The distribution of publication recommendations (eg, reject, major revision, minor revision, or accept) was compared for manuscripts that showed the author’s name (AL, AH) vs those that did not (AA) using Mann-Whitney tests.


A total of 2611 researchers (79.1%) responded to the invitation, 821 of whom agreed to review (31.4%). The invitation showing Vernon Smith was accepted statistically significantly more often than those showing no author name or Sabiou Inoua (acceptances: HH, 158 of 410 [38.5%] vs LL, 174 of 610 [28.5%]; P = .001; HH, 158 of 410 [38.5%] vs anonymized, 489 of 1591 [30.7%]; P = .003). Of the 821 reviewers who accepted the invitation, 534 (65.0%) submitted reports (AA, 110; AL, 101; AH, 102; LL, 114; and HH, 107). The manuscript showing the prominent author received 53.3% less reject recommendations and more than 10 times as many accept recommendations as the anonymized version (test on the distribution of recommendations: AH vs AA, P < .001) (Table 11, A). The manuscript showing the name of the less prominent author got 35.5% more reject recommendations and 63.7% less minor revision recommendations than the anonymized version (test on the distribution of recommendations: AL vs AA, P = .005) (Table 11, B). Author prominence affected the willingness to review and reviewers’ recommendations.


Although double-anonymized peer review is not a panacea,2 this study’s results still support its use in the field of finance.


1. Merton, RK. The Matthew effect in science. Science. 1968;159(3810):56-63. doi:10.1126/science.159.3810.56

2. Snodgrass, R. Single- versus double-blind reviewing: an analysis of the literature. ACM SIGMOD Record. 2006;35(3):8-21. doi:10.1145/1168092.1168094

1Department of Banking and Finance, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria, christian.koenig@uibk.ac.at; 2Economic Science Institute, Chapman University, Orange, CA, USA; 3Department of Economics, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria; 4Institute of Banking and Finance, University of Graz, Graz, Austria

Conflict of Interest Disclosures

None reported.


Financial support from the Austrian Science Fund through SFB F63 is gratefully acknowledged.

Role of the Funder/Sponsor

The funding organization did not play any role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the abstract; and the decision to submit the abstract for presentation.

Additional Information

Jürgen Huber is a co–corresponding author.