Field of Science

It's a small world

Recently, Grrlscientist has written a couple posts about double-blind peer review (where the reviewers don't know who the authors are as well as the authors not knowing who the reviewers are). She hopes that more double-blind peer reviewing would diminish possible sex discrimination in peer review.

Aside from some controversy as to whether there actually is any prejudice against women in peer review, many writing comments have asked whether blind peer review isn't just a facade. After all, it's a very, very small world, and we all know who each other are. Not only can you usually tell who is writing a paper without looking at the author's names (based on who they cite, their research topic, and their theoretical perspective), it's not always difficult to figure out who the reviewers are once you read the review.

It's a small world in other ways, too. My section of the department here at Harvard (development) is currently interviewing 6 candidates for faculty positions and 4 prospective graduate students. The job candidates are from the following schools:

Duke, Yale, Max Planck, University of London, MIT, Stanford

The potential graduate students are from:

Columbia, Stanford, Yale, Johns Hopkins

This is a narrow enough set as it is, but notice the repetition of Stanford and Yale. We have particularly close ties with Yale. One of my office-mates is from Yale. One of our upper-level graduate students will be taking up a professorship at Yale in the fall in developmental psychology (and a good friend of mine, who is graduating from the vision lab this spring will be taking up a post-doctoral fellowship at Yale as well).

Consider the job candidates for a different position in the department (cognition, brain and behavior):

Yale, MIT, Giessen, Yale, University of Chicago

It's not really surprising that it's such a tight-knit community, but it's still interesting to observe.

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