How I can cite a submitted manuscript which I am not supposed to publicly archive (e.g. on arXiv) because the review process is double-blind (i.e. the manuscript is anonymized and should not be archived in a way that reveals authors' identities) and/or the journal has a restrictive archival policy?

This manuscript may therefore not be assigned a permanent link (like it would have been with biorXiv, arXiv, OSF, some institutional repos, etc.). I am aware of platforms such as Zenodo allowing anonymous archival but these do not necessarily imply a citation format to be used. However, I'd like to share the manuscript among colleagues who might want to refer to it. So, I want to suggest to them a citation format while it's under review.

I found this, suggesting me to do that:

Doe, J., & Smith, A. (2012). A study on the difficulty of getting manuscripts published. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Sociology, The Top University, New York.

where manuscript can be substituted by something like working paper or preprint. See also that SE comment. However, I am not sure whether this is the best way to do it. Any better suggestions?

Thank you.

  • Could you first explain what "a preprint (likewise a working paper, or a manuscript) which I am not supposed to officially archive because of a longer double-blind review process with an anonymized version of that preprint" means in plain English? Jan 12, 2021 at 0:17
  • Thanks for the hint. I hope that reads better.
    – mfg
    Jan 12, 2021 at 8:23

2 Answers 2


Check the style guide that you are writing against, these often have guidelines on how to cite unpublished works. For example, the CA Style Guide (from Chicago Manual of Style) states:

Unpublished Work

  • Forthcoming works (works that have been accepted for publication and are in the publication process) are listed in the References Cited and are cited as references, with "forthcoming."

  • Manuscripts that are not in the formal publication process (e.g., that have been submitted but not yet accepted for publication) and other unpublished work are cited parenthetically in the text or explained in a footnote.

  • Unpublished work should be identified as a manuscript, a letter, an e-mail, a personal conversation, or "unpublished data." The citation must include the full name of the person and a date or a year, if possible, as well as the brief description.

    (George Hamilton, personal conversation, May 2009)
    (William Lewis, Donald Steadman, and Peter Larsen, unpublished data)
    (Mary Pat Stearns, unpublished manuscript, 2008)
    (Dan Peterson, e-mail, January 13, 2008)

  • Thank you, @Mike. This answer includes the other one and represents a nice summary.
    – mfg
    Aug 29, 2018 at 16:07

I'm not sure this is a better solution, but you can be cited by name (and possibly place), with the paper described as "private communication.". Include a date (29 Aug. 2018) but not the name of the manuscript.

Doe, J., & Smith, A.. Private communication, (29 Aug. 2018). Department of Sociology, The Top University, New York.

Once the publication becomes official contact your circle with the information and an updated reference. They may be able to update their own work in some cases, depending on timing, etc.

I'll note that it isn't impossible that the title of your work will change after review, making a more specific title obsolete.

  • Thanks @Buffy. I think that pretty much addresses my problem, sounds like a good way to go.
    – mfg
    Aug 29, 2018 at 11:29
  • It is reasonably common, actually, @Mario. Now we have to argue about which university is "top" in NY. ;-)
    – Buffy
    Aug 29, 2018 at 11:31

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