New Data on the Linguistic Diversity of Authorship in Philosophy Journals


This paper investigates the representation of authors with different linguistic backgrounds in academic publishing. We first review some common rebuttals of concerns about linguistic injustice. We then analyze 1039 authors of philosophy journals, primarily selected from the 2015 Leiter Report. While our data show that Anglophones dominate the output of philosophy papers, this unequal distribution cannot be solely attributed to language capacities. We also discover that ethics journals have more Anglophone authors than logic journals and that most authors (73.40%) are affiliated with English-speaking universities, suggesting other factors (e.g. philosophical areas and academic resources) may also play significant roles. Moreover, some interesting results are revealed when we combine the factor of sex with place of affiliation and linguistic background. It indicates that while certain linguistic injustice is inevitable in academic publishing, it may be more complex than thought. We next introduce Broadbent’s (Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci 40:302–311, 2009a, Legal Theory 15:173–191, 2009b, Philos Stud 158(3):457–476, 2012, Philosophy of epidemiology, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2013, Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci 48:250–257, 2014) contrastive account of causation to give a causal explanation of our findings. Broadbent’s account not only well characterizes the multifaceted causality in academic publishing but also provides a methodological guideline for further investigation.

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  1. 1.

    The meaning of “Anglophone” can be ambiguous sometimes. For example, while Oxford English Dictionary defines it as an English-speaking person, Cambridge English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Dictionary define it as a person who speaks English, especially in countries where other languages are also spoken. In this study, the term is used to refer to linguistic communities whose members speak English as their native or first language regardless of the location of these communities. This interpretation allows us to make a distinction between one’s linguistic background and one’s geographical location and to compare all the possible combinations of pairs of groups on the two variables.

  2. 2.

    Likewise situations are rather common in the area of chronic diseases, primarily cancer and cardiovascular disease. There is usually a large number of factors involved in the development of these diseases, but presence of those factors might not always result in the expected disease.

  3. 3.

    They are consistency, strength, specificity, temporal relation, and coherence of the association.

  4. 4.

    For examples of the causal criteria in Epidemiology, see Hill (1965) and Susser (1991).

  5. 5.

    In this study, Anglosphere refers to English-speaking nations including the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, and New Zealand. All have similar cultural roots back to the British Empire.

  6. 6.

    These clues include names, other languages of research, the match between the place of birth and that of receiving first degree, etc.

  7. 7.

    As estimated in 2017, only about 5% of the global population (estimated 7.5 billions) are native English speakers (estimated 372 millions).

  8. 8.

    Examples include insufficient funding and peers to discuss with, unable to attend conferences, disconnect to the previous academic networks, or unfamiliar with journals’ rules of game. The scholars may be isolated from the mainstream of professional community and resources, affecting the quality and quantity of their research (Hyland 2016a; Ferguson 2007).

  9. 9.

    Beyond that, current evidence for gender bias in journal peer review is weak (Lee et al. 2012; Resnik and Elmore 2016).

  10. 10.

    Take cigarette smoking and lung cancer for example. On the one hand, there is a significant positive association between the two. On the other hand, such measure of strength of association is causally neutral. When it is used to make about some causal claim, we need to give an account of how a causal interpretation of the measure of association works. See Broadbent (2013, pp. 34–50) for his diagnosis of how the rival approaches, the probabilistic approach and the counterfactual approach, fail the task.

  11. 11.

    See also Schaffer (2005, pp. 327–329, 2010). He too also holds a contrastive view of causation but with a contrast for both cause and effect.

  12. 12.

    That is, it is more challenging for p to disseminate her work due to the difficulty getting her work published.

  13. 13.

    A SYMPTOM is a difference between p and a contrast class.

  14. 14.

    These factors are chosen based on our data in Sect. 3. They are the explanatory causes of one’s being in an underprivileged position in publication.

  15. 15.

    So the controls may include, say, native English speakers who are also novices in academia and do not have to make an extra effort (as p does) to disseminate their work, senior non-native English scholars who do not have to make an extra effort (as p does) to disseminate their work, and so forth. People who have to make an extra effort (as p does) to disseminate their work are excluded from the controls due to the first condition. People who are with every cause listed in the second condition are excluded from the controls too. On this approach, the exclusion of cases from the controls can itself be analyzed contrastively further. See Broadbent (2013, pp. 158–159, 2014).

  16. 16.

    For a review of this literature, see Jost et al. (2009).

  17. 17.

    While the discrimination led by implicit biases is often unintentional, unendorsed, and perpetrated without the agent’s awareness, it does not follow that the agent is without control of it (Suhler and Churchland 2009).

  18. 18.

    In an earlier version of this paper, we used Chen’s (2013, 2014) account of structural causation, instead of Broadbent’s contrastive account of causation, to interpret our data. While Chen’s theory is a pertinent one, his papers are written in Mandarin and not accessible in English. So we were suggested to include a link to the common literature on causation.


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Correspondence to Tzu-Wei Hung.

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Yen, C., Hung, T. New Data on the Linguistic Diversity of Authorship in Philosophy Journals. Erkenn 84, 953–974 (2019).

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