The roots and the current practices of the International Relations (IR) discipline used to be a matter of intellectual history, with occasional doses of self-criticism. For a while now, however, larger debates have developed around three central claims:
- In the US and elsewhere, IR lacks diversity in terms of gender and race
- In global IR, American / English-speaking / “Northern” voices are privileged
- More biographical diversity would open the doors for more intellectual diversity
With the “Global Pathways” project, we provide empirical insights about IR research around the world. This includes information on the contents of research articles as well as citation patterns. But the first question concerns authorship: Who publishes where?
This blog post summarizes the findings of our new article in International Studies Review. With generous help from colleagues at the TRIP project and in Japan, we coded authorship information for roughly 2,400 IR articles in 17 journals from around the world (2011-2015). Crucially, this dataset includes many works outside the Web of Science!
Three main findings
-1- Local clusters everywhere. Across all journals we investigated, “local” authors (with jobs in the same world region as the journal) account for the biggest chunk of articles. This is true irrespective of journal reputation, citations counts, or target audience. However, top-ranked journals additionally tend to publish much more work by authors with ties to rop-ranked institutions (as measured by the global TRIP survey).
-2- Variation in diversity. Some journals have a more geographically diverse set of authors than others. To some extent that’s due to language barriers: not that many people can write a research article in German, for instance. Yet, we also see a crowding-out effect in journals that are key destinations for North American scholars. Diversity is highest in the “goldilocks zone” of journals with just the right amount of international visibility.
-3- Researcher mobility matters. We traced where authors studied and received their doctoral degree. In combination with professional affiliations, we can thus create a typology of authors. Those who publish in a region to which they don’t have obvious ties can be called academic tourists. They often hold North American, British, or European doctorates. But migration also contributes to the globalization of IR, as people acquire doctorates abroad and then publish as expats, returnees, or members of the academic diaspora.
Taking mobility into account, many journals are thus more geographically diverse than they seem at first glance. We take this as good news for intellectual diversity! At the same time, the majority of globally visible IR research seems to be authored by scholars trained in a relatively small part of the world. In the article, we discuss a few efforts that journal editors can take to (further) increase authorship diversity.
Upcoming publications by the Global Pathways team will study how biographical backgrounds are linked to the contents of IR research as well as to citation patterns. We would love to hear what you think about our findings!
Lohaus, Mathis/ Wiebke Wemheuer-Vogelaar (2020): "Who publishes where? Exploring the geographic diversity of global IR journals.” International Studies Review. DOI: 10.1093/isr/viaa062