academic work

The Weight of a Name

When an organization is hiring someone to fill a job, it’s very difficult to avoid bias in the hiring process – because, at some point, the hiring decision is subjective. The applicants for the job may have very similar qualifications and experience, which then usually leads to assessments such as how well each applicant would “fit” within the organization. “Fit” is a subjective assessment, and when subjective assessments become an exercise in “how much is this person like the people that are already here”, that’s when unintended or explicit bias can affect the hiring decision.

Numerous studies have shown that hiring decisions can be biased by factors like the ethnicity of the applicant’s name, their appearance, and their social class. Now, two economists, Qi Ge and Stephen Wu, have published a very interesting research study of another possible source of bias in hiring: how difficult it is to pronounce the applicant’s name.

The data that these researchers used for their study was taken from (more…)

A Journey Through The Peer Review Process

A few months ago I wrote this post about the problem of hidden bias in the peer review process at academic journals. Anyone who read that post, or who wants to know more about the process of getting academic researched published in journals, should check out this very informative and enlightening post by political scientist Nate Jensen. It took nearly five years, and rejections by four journals, for his award-winning paper to get accepted for publication.

Among my own colleagues, the longest time it took anyone to get an article published (at least that I’m aware of) was four years – and that was from submission to acceptance at one journal. Success in academic work requires a lot of qualities, but clearly patience and persistence are among the most important.

(Thanks to The Monkey Cage blog, where I found the post that led me to Nate’s story.)