Increasing geographic diversity in the international conservation literature: A stalled process?

Christos Mammides, Uromi M. Goodale, Richard T. Corlett, Jin Chen, Kamaljit S. Bawa, Hetal Hariya, Frith Jarrad, Richard B. Primack, Harry Ewing, Xue Xia, Eben Goodale

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Tropical countries are important to conservation because of the threats to the high levels of biodiversity there, but research on conservation science in these mostly developing countries has traditionally been written by foreigners. This disconnect could have serious implications for the practice of conservation, as local scientists can be more effective than foreigners in interacting with practitioners or pushing forward conservation action themselves. These scientists' careers are strengthened by participation in the international literature, and their knowledge about conservation's success in their country provides necessary feedback to the theoretical literature. We assess the past and current status of geographic diversity in the international conservation literature, over 30 years and in comparison to other fields, as well as present acceptance rate data from prominent journals, broken down by the country of corresponding authorship. While the proportion of articles in all fields contributed by low and medium income countries increases over time, the percentage of conservation articles contributed by corresponding authors from low income countries is actually declining. Manuscripts by authors from low income countries were less than half as likely to be published as those from high income countries. We present a list of specific policies that journals can implement to reverse these trends, such as having regional editors, providing editing assistance, waiving fees, and seeking locally focused studies from which globally relevant strategies and lessons can be drawn. We also stress that long-term the problem can best be addressed by funding educational institutions that develop young researchers in the tropics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-83
Number of pages6
JournalBiological Conservation
Early online date19 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Conservation education
  • Conservation funding
  • Institutional capacity
  • Peer review process
  • Publication trends
  • Sustainable development

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