Debate on Political Bias in International Relations Research

Debate on Political Bias in International Relations Scholarship

    Beginning in 1999, a controversy emerged in international relations, concerning alleged political bias in the professional journals. The key assertion that I and others have advanced is that academic writing in this area has degenerated into a crude apologia for American hegemony.  A series of articles appeared on the resulting controversy.

    On this page, I connect interested readers with the relevant source material.  The first article, from the Chronicle of Higher Education, nice job of laying out the basic issues and events,  and it is a good place to start. Note that some of the databases listed -- Lexis and EBSCO -- are proprietary and can only be accessed from libraries that have subscriptions. The direct web links are all freely accessible. If you would like to obtain some of these sources, and cannot access them electronically, please contact me ( I will send you a hard copy.

    More recent articles on this topic also have focused on the CIA's connections to political science and academia more generally. For links to the CIA debate, click here.
    1. Peter Monaghan, "Does International Relations Scholarship Reflect a Bias toward the U.S.?" Chronicle of Higher Education, September 24, 1999. Cover story. For full text, click here.

    This article helped trigger the controversy; it contains comments from Robert Keohane, Bruce Russett, Richard Mansbach, Irene Gendzier, David Lake, Christopher Simpson, and William Thompson.

    2. "International Relations Scholarship," Chronicle of Higher Education, October 29, 1999.  

    Letters to the editor, commenting on the above article, from Robert S. Snyder, Douglas McDonald, Mark Falcoff, Ronald W. Cox, and Larry George. For full text, click here.

     3. "U.S.-Cuban Relations During the Cold War," Chronicle of Higher Education, November 19, 1999.

    Letters to the editor from David Gibbs and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. For full text click here.

    4. Chris Mooney, "For Your Eyes Only: The CIA Will Let You See Classified Documents - But at What Price?" Lingua Franca, November 2000.  

    An interesting article that revealed a previously unknown fact: Even before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a significant number of prominent political scientists worked with the Central Intelligence Agency.  To my knowledge, this fact had not previously been acknowledged in public. Includes comments from Robert Keohane, Bruce Cumings, Bradford Westerfield, Richard Mansbach, Craig Murphy, Joseph Nye, Thomas Volgy, and Robert Jervis.

    For full text, click here.    

    5.  Robert S. Snyder, "The U.S. and Third World Revolutionary States: Understanding the Breakdown in Relations," International Studies Quarterly 43, no. 2, 1999.

    The article that I used as a foil, to initiate the controversy discussed in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Lingua Franca (see above). Snyder argues in essence that U.S. hostility toward radical Third World states during the Cold War was provoked primarily by the Third World states, not by the U.S. The articles includes case studies of U.S. relations with Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, and Zimbabwe.

    Full text available through JSTOR.    

    6.  "Confronting Bias in International Relations," International Studies Perspectives 2, no. 4, 2001. This forum features an extended debate between David Gibbs and Robert Snyder, introduced with a preface by ISP coeditor Robert Denemark.  The preface sets forth a call for papers, by the editors of ISP, on the question of bias in international relations research.

    The Gibbs piece, "Social Science as Propaganda?  International Relations and the Question of Political Bias," presents an extended critique of Snyder's original article in ISQ, and of the profession more generally. This is followed by Snyder's response, "Farewell to 'Old Thinking':  A Reply to Gibbs."

    For full of article and responses, click here.    

    7. "Confronting Bias in International Relations: Responses to the ISP Forum (2: 4) Articles by David Gibbs and Robert Snyder," International Studies Perspectives 3, no. 4, 2002.

    Includes responses to the above Gibbs-Snyder debate, with contributions by Timothy J. White, Gregory P. Nowell, Robert Hager, and Ronald W. Cox.

    For full text of responses, click here.
    Page created by David Gibbs

    Return to D. Gibbs' Homepage