Bewertung wissenschaftlicher Veröffentlichungen

Since the anonymity of authors cannot be uniformly assured, it would require a strict experimental design to find out decisively whether papers of the same scientific quality are assessed differently by referees according to the status of authors. Both ethics and practicality rule out the draconian experiment in which matched samples of referees, all unknowing, would independently judge the same manuscripts variously ascribed to physicists of different rank, in order to determine the extent of status-linked evaluations. Nor can we approximate the intent of that experimental design by adopting the number of citations to published papers as measures of quality to see whether papers rejected by The Physical Review but published elsewhere are of the same quality as those accepted by that journal. At best, we can bring together data which provide cumulative intimations of the extent to which judgements by editors and referees relate to the status of authors. We begin by examining the successive disposition of manuscripts as this is summarised in the abbreviated flow chart of the refereeing process (Chart I).