Much of the world’s biodiversity is located within countries with developing economies. We therefore examine how well developing nations and their scientists are represented in three international conservation biology journals (Conservation Biology, Biological Conservation, Biodiversity and Conservation). We found: (1) that 28% of studies were from lower income countries and only 15% of all papers had primary authors from these nations. Of papers from lower income countries, although 80% had at least one local author, only 47% had primary authors from the country where the study was conducted. (2) Lower income countries had more research with a strong applied focus compared to research from high-income countries. (3) In lower income countries research was often funded by international sources but the primary authors of these studies were from affluent nations. (4) The three journals differed in how well they represented lower income nations and their scientists, reflecting their editorial policies for including research from lower income nations. The main reason for the large discrepancy in a country’s output of conservation research is due to the difference in a nation’s ability to invest in science. However, a brief survey of authors suggests that there is a large amount of information available in lower income and non-English speaking countries that is not easily accessible to the international conservation community. Journals may therefore need to consider altering their policies if we are to improve the representation of research by scientists in lower income nations.