Sorting by relevance when conducting academic literature searches results in biased results: Study

Opinion Study

In a recent study for the Society for Research in Higher Education, University of Cambridge researchers Dr Katy Jordan and Dr Sally Po Tsai found that searching academic literature while sorting by relevance introduces bias. These algorithm-led literature searches rank content based on factors such as content, journal of publication, the author, and recency of citations in other scholarly literature, which Jordan explains are factors that have been found to be biased in favour of white, male, Western-based scholars while deprioritizing research by scholars who are women, of colour, in their early career, and/or from the Global South. In an editorial for University World Affairs, Jordan outlines some of the actions that researchers, universities, and journals and database developers can take to counter this bias.

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