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Commensuration Bias in Peer Review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


To arrive at their final evaluation of a manuscript or grant proposal, reviewers must convert a submission’s strengths and weaknesses for heterogeneous peer review criteria into a single metric of quality or merit. I identify this process of commensuration as the locus for a new kind of peer review bias. Commensuration bias illuminates how the systematic prioritization of some peer review criteria over others permits and facilitates problematic patterns of publication and funding in science. Commensuration bias also foregrounds a range of structural strategies for realigning peer review practices and institutions with the aims of science.

Social Sciences and Policy
Philosophy of Science , Volume 82 , Issue 5 , December 2015 , pp. 1272 - 1283
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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I am grateful for the Career Enhancement Fellowship (funded by the Mellon Foundation and administered by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation) and Royalty Research Fund Scholars grant #A79071 (from the University of Washington), which afforded research time to complete this article. For helpful references and/or comments, I would like to thank Catherine Elgin, Elena Erosheva, Chris Haufe, John Manchak, Miriam Solomon, Kyle Stanford, and audience members at my 2013 American Association for the Advancement of Science presentation of this material.


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