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I received a referee report from a journal (with single blind peer review policy).

If that matters, the journal uses "Editorial Manager" system.

By clicking on "View Attachments", one can see 5 these information "Action", "Uploaded By", "Description", "File Name", "File Size".

The content of the column "Uploaded By" is "Editor".

The content of the column "Description" is "from prof. X"

Hence the identity of the referee is disclosed.

I am wondering if it is an unintended mistake from the Editor or it is the referee who has written such description.

The referee has done a substantial work to evaluate the manuscript and has proposed many suggestions leading to the improvement of the manuscript.

My dilemma is that, as I know the identity of the referee, should I use his real name in the acknowledgement or just thank an anonymous referee?

48

If the review itself is not signed, it sounds like the unblinding was not deliberate. I would:

  • Reply as if the review were anonymous
  • Notify the editor in a separate, private message saying there may have been an error in showing the reviewer name
  • 12
    I would add: Notify the Editor after the paper is published. Otherwise you risk some complications. You did not do anything wrong (especially, you did not actively search for who the referee was), and the editor could over-react in some way and even blame you or change his attitude towards you. – yo' May 7 at 13:02
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    @yo' Hide the truth until it's too late! Bury the evidence! Learn these and other useful techniques in our new course Shady Ethics 101. – David Richerby May 7 at 14:22
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    @DavidRicherby Nothing shady. The authors did not do anything wrong. If it's a mistake, it's a mistake of either the Editor, the reviewer or the system they work in. I don't see any reason why the authors should risk their article being badly treated by anyone involved. – yo' May 7 at 14:32
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    @yo' If you are aware of something which you think might negatively affect the chances of your paper being accepted, not bringing that up is shady. It doesn't matter whose fault it is. (IMO, this shouldn't actually affect your chances. The worry about non-anonymous reviews is that the reviewer might seek favours by giving a good review. But, in this case, the referee thought s/he was anonymous, so wouldn't have been trying anything.) – David Richerby May 7 at 14:38
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    @yo' If the editor will give you a hard time about accidentally seeing the unblinded names before publication, it's likely they'll be even harder on you if they find you deliberately & strategically held back the information until after publication. Sure, they probably won't rescind publication (though they might if they feel the review process was tainted), but you just burned bridges with them, and will find it hard to publish with that editor/journal in the future. -- If you're looking long term (and not just for this particular paper) the best course of action is to be open and forthright. – R.M. May 7 at 15:18
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I would ignore the inadvertent disclosure of the referee's name. It is unimportant. Do not name the referee in your manuscript.

  • Could you explain more about why the disclosure of the referee's name is not important? It seems like journals put a lot of effort into the single-blind peer review process. That makes it seem important. – Brian Moths May 8 at 2:52
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    @BrianMoths it is important that authors do not bribe reviewers. That's not the issue here. – Anonymous Physicist May 8 at 3:13
6

Ask the editor.

Probably it is a mistake, but it is not your fault. I do not expect this to be to your detriment (and they might already have noticed it themself) and you seem to have a dilemma what to do.

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