Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

INDEK Working Paper Series,
Royal Institute of Technology, Department of Industrial Economics and Management

No 2014/10: Defining the Role of Cognitive Distance in the Peer Review Process: Explorative Study of a Grant Scheme in Infection Biology

Qi Wang () and Ulf Sandström ()
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Qi Wang: Department of Industrial Economics and Management, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Postal: Department of Industrial Economics and Management, Royal Institute of Technology, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden
Ulf Sandström: Department of Industrial Economics and Management, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Postal: Department of Industrial Economics and Management, Royal Institute of Technology, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: The aim of this paper is twofold: (1) to provide a methodology that can measure cognitive distance between researchers and (2) to explore the role of cognitive distance on the results of peer review processes. Citing references and the content of articles are used to represent their respective scientific knowledge bases. Based on the two different approaches—Author-Bibliographic Coupling analysis and Author-Topic analysis—we apply the methodology on a recent competition for grants from the Swedish Strategic Foundation. Results indicate that cognitive distances between applicants and reviewers might influence peer review results, but that the impact is to some extent at the unexpected end. The main contribution of this paper is the elaboration on the relevance of the concept of cognitive distance to the issue of research evaluation in general, and especially in relation to peer review as a model used in grant decisions.

Keywords: peer review; cognitive distance; cognitive bias

JEL-codes: I20

15 pages, December 18, 2014

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