Tag Archives: global south

Diversity in IR authorship around the world

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:

  1. In the US and elsewhere, IR lacks diversity in terms of gender and race
  2. In global IR, American / English-speaking / “Northern” voices are privileged
  3. 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

Bar graph showing the shares of authors from different world regions in different IR journals.

-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).

Plot showing the relationship between publishing language, number of citations, and authorship diversity.

-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.

Alluvial (sankey) diagram showing how authorship records are linked from undergraduate degree via doctorate and professional affiliation to final publication.

-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.

To conclude…

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

Democratic Consolidation and the Global Political Economy


How do we promote regime stability especially in the Global South? In the current issue of International Studies Perspectives, I argue that the life expectancy (or stability) of nominally electoral democratic regimes in the developing world is highly contingent upon responding to the material needs of its people, and maintain that material distributive issues within those countries are highly dependent upon a given regime’s position within the broader global political economy. The article is highly theoretical, and it is inspired with a critical political economy perspective.

Perhaps one of the principal messages of the article is that regime stability in the Global South necessarily depends (but not sufficiently) upon carefully addressing issues of material distribution within those countries. In praxeological terms, regime distribution is not a task that can be solely done by the national institutions themselves, but perhaps by transforming the over-all structure of the current global political economy. In academic terms, regime stability (and in this case, democratic consolidation) is a subject of scholarly investigation that should bring scholars of comparative politics (who tend to be ‘methodological nationalists’) and international relations into one discussion table. The article explains these theoretical points in much detail, and make some illustrative examples in order to reinforce those arguments.

The article was written in 2010 to 2011 during my Master’s studies in Osnabrück, and it underwent several stages of peer-reviewed revisions since then until its acceptance in International Studies Perspectives in 2013. Indeed, the article is highly pessimistic of the future of the current neoliberal democratic regimes in the Global South, and quite radical in terms of its criticisms of the moral failings of the global political economy (as well as the academic scholarship that underpins it). In retrospect, however, I now tend to reconsider those arguments I’ve made in this article with much caution and intellectual humility.

While my long-term research agenda still focuses on the transnational-domestic linkages that produce local political change in the developing world, I am more predisposed to more empirically driven (but theoretically grounded) research, rather than theoretical musing as exhibited in the current article. Notwithstanding, I invite readers to read the article (contact me by email in case you don’t have online access), and to engage in a productive and critical discussion about the points raised (and not raised) in the article.

Finally, interested readers might also consider other highly recommended works on the topic: