Tag Archives: journals

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

Should I publish in my native language?

The German IR journal Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen. Source: Nomos Publishers.

People often claim that publishing in US outlets is be perceived to be optimal, and English is the lingua franca in IR. But those from a non Engliish-speaking background are confronted with the problem of deciding whether the paper should be written in English (and be published in English journals) or whether it is more advisable to write in one’s native language.

In the last edition of the German flagship IR journal ‘Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen (ZIB)‘, Matthias Albert and Michael Zürn issued a plea to also publish in German. They neither say that one should publish in one’s native language exclusively, nor that the ratio of English language to native language authored papers should be determined by any arbitrary rule. IR scholars should rather publish both in English and in their native language. It’s a great piece, and I suggest reading it, but I also want to address some bits and pieces that I find hard to swallow. Continue reading Should I publish in my native language?

Links: Dick Cheney; Press Freedom; Publication Bias; Thesis Writing

In the New York Review of Books, Mark Danner has a captivating article on Dick Cheney’s legacy: First, the “war on terror” has changed the United States; human rights are ignored and the “dark side” of military and intelligence operations has been vastly expanded. Second, the decisions after 9/11 have changed the face of the world, and not in a good way. Danner then goes on and paints a picture of the man himself that will send chills down your spine:

[T]here is a kind of stark amoral grandeur to this answer that takes one’s breath away. Just as he was likely the most important and influential American official in making the decision to withhold the protection of the Geneva Conventions from detainees, Cheney was likely the most important and influential American when it came to imposing an official government policy of torture. It is quite clear he simply cannot, or will not, acknowledge that such a policy raises any serious moral or legal questions at all.

Reporters Without Borders - World Press Freedom 2014
Reporters Without Borders – World Press Freedom 2014

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have published their 2014 World Press Freedom Index. As they have done in earlier years, the NGO called out the United States: “Countries that pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example, far from it.”

Traditionally, RSF rankings are more strongly influenced by individual cases and physical security than the report prepared by Freedom House (FH). Their “Freedom of the Press” is usually updated in May.

The 2014 version of FH’s “Freedom in the World” report (on political rights and civil liberties), however, has just been published.

Jishnu Das and Quy-Toan Do diagnose a geographical bias in top economics journals:

IR Journals Off the Beaten Track


Whenever you write an acacemic paper – no matter whether it is for school, for a journal or as part of your thesis – you are in need of literature. You need to find other papers or books to read and to cite to show that you know what you and others are talking about. But where do you look for this literature? No matter whether you start your search at Google Scholar, your local university library or the Web of Knowledge (WoK), you often end up following a beaten track. And that track most oftenly leads through US publishing houses, authors, and journals.

If your are interested in some alternative views, here are some links to journals that might help you leave that path at least once in a while:

Some of these journals are actually listed in the Social Science Citation Index and you might want (or have) to access it through the Web of Knowledge (given that your institution has access to the WoK).

This list is probably not exaustive and it ignores non-US journals from Europe and Canada. But it introduces publications of IR communuties that are probably farest off the beaten  track and it represents what I have collected over the years as part of my own research on post-Western IR. If you know of other journals or good alternative databases, please share these with us!

Links: On Tomatoes and Careful Phrasing

(Image CC BY-NC by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos via Wikimedia Commons)

  • Today I overheard colleague A explaining the “Pomodoro” technique of time management to colleague B. In case you’re not familiar with it, please take a minute to enjoy the official website.* Although A claimed that the technique had helped him a lot during the “particularly terrible phases of writing the thesis”, B remained unimpressed. But maybe I should by a kitchen timer…
  • Speaking of time: PHD Comics has an, uhm, improved version of what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us university students are doing…
  • I know it’s not exactly International Relations, but I have been following the Reinhart & Rogoff vs. Herndon et al. skirmish over the weekend (and covered it earlier). Today, Herndon (a PhD student) replied to the last round of replies by R&R (famous economic historians). His wording in response to one of their statements struck me as great example of … being very careful:

This is not our interpretation of our work

* Aforementioned website also tells me that I “may not write an article about the ‘Pomodoro Technique®’ without quoting the author. This may lead the reader to attribute the origin in a misleading way. Obviously, the worst case is an explicit attribution of the technique to someone else other than Francesco Cirillo.” So let me, at this point, state very clearly that Francesco Cirillo has invented this mind-blowing and totally not trivial way of conditioning oneself to get work done with short breaks in between. (Is that even legal?)