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Peer review

While peer review, rather than quantitative metrics, must continue to govern academic decisions, including those relating to hiring, tenure, and promotion, there is increasing evidence that bias within the peer review process may contribute to persistent inequities within the academy. For example, a number of studies have found that gender bias in grant review processes in Canada and worldwide results in a lower rate of funding success for women applicants.50 Given the importance of external funding to career progress and the heavy weight placed on successful grant applications in many evaluation processes, bias in the review of funding applications can serve as a barrier to full participation in the academy. External funding agencies have begun to examine their review processes and issue guidelines to address the impact of bias, and associations should both undertake a similar examination of their own evaluation processes and ensure that discrimination is not compounded by assessment criteria that place excessive emphasis on success in external competitions that are compromised by bias. In the collective bargaining context, this means ensuring that the agreement requires periodic review of all evaluation policies and procedures to ensure that they do not contribute to systemic discrimination, and resisting administration proposals that would require success in externally-funded competitions or fail to recognize community-engaged scholarship and non-peer-reviewed contributions.

50 Rosemary Morgan, Kate Hawkins and Jamie Lundine. “The foundation and consequences of gender bias in grant peer review processes.” CMAJ April 23, 2018 190 (16) E487-E488; DOI: