The academic status of reviewers predicts their language use

Zhuanlan SUN, C. Clark CAO*, Chao MA, Yiwei LI

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Peer review plays an essential role in scientific research, but the influence of reviewers' academic status is often overlooked during this process. By accessing peer review reports, in this study we empirically investigate this effect. Specifically, we analyzed 2,580 peer review histories from eLife submissions between 2016 and 2021 to examine the relationship between reviewers’ academic status and their language usage in the first round of peer review. We focused on two types of language features: emotional features (e.g., positivity and subjectivity) and linguistic features (e.g., number of long words and complex words). Our findings revealed no significant reviewer bias of academic status, such that the reviewers’ comments with emotional features were not significantly associated with reviewers’ awareness of being more prestigious than the last corresponding author of the manuscripts. More accomplished reviewers, however, were more likely to use longer and more complex words. Additionally, the results of linguistic features remained robust in the group where the last author served as the last corresponding author. Overall, our findings suggest that the quality of peer review remains the primary consideration for reviewers when evaluating submissions. These results have significant implications for open peer review practices and the fair assessment of the peer review process.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101449
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Informetrics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023


  • Academic status
  • Emotional feature
  • Language usage
  • Linguistic feature
  • Peer review


Dive into the research topics of 'The academic status of reviewers predicts their language use'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this