1

During the review process of an article, the reviewers are (almost always) anonymous by default for obvious reasons.

Why are not authors also made anonymous?

It could help remove the weight that established authors carry in certain fields (which can tilt the scale in their favor), as well as the stigma associated to research coming from non-developed countries.

Are there any good reasons why this is not done? I can not think of any.

  • I wonder how field-specific this is. While I'm not an h10 author, all of the papers I submitted in the field of learning science / analytics were double-blinded. It did require multiple versions of the paper. – Van Nov 18 '19 at 14:33
  • (Of course OP couldn’t have known it was a duplicate before learning the “double-blind” lingo. So don’t see my close vote as a criticism. It’s a good question, just one we’ve had exactly asked before in different words.) – Noah Snyder Nov 18 '19 at 14:35
  • 1
    @NoahSnyder I believe it is a duplicate. I was not even aware of the double-blind review system, which is why I didn't even mention it. Now that I know about it, I think that question precludes this one. – Gabriel Nov 18 '19 at 14:35
  • I have also voted to close as duplicate. – Gabriel Nov 18 '19 at 14:36
4

Sometimes they are. That's called double blind refereeing. It is becoming more common.

From https://www.maa.org/press/periodicals/guide-for-referees

The Board of Governors of the Mathematical Association of America has mandated that our journals use a double‐blind review system.

This blog post and comments discuss the history, pros and cons of double blind refereeing in parts of mathematics and computer science.

  • I was not aware of that practice, thanks for pointing it out! – Gabriel Nov 18 '19 at 14:25
  • 1
    Do you happen to know of any research oriented journals in pure math that use a double blind refereeing process? As far as I am aware, all of the MAA journals are primarily expository, which makes their submissions much easier anonymize. – Ben Linowitz Nov 18 '19 at 14:42
  • @BenLinowitz See the blog linked in my edit. – Ethan Bolker Nov 18 '19 at 15:03
3

Some conferences and journals do employ "double blind" reviewing. Whether it is superior or not can be debated. Whether it is actually "needed" or not can also be debated.

But, single blind is just a tradition that makes some things easier on authors and editors. Double blind reviewing normally requires that a special version of a paper be presented for review, since the authors often refer internally to their own work and often use personal pronouns, such as "we". This makes it easy to disambiguate authors unless care is taken. There have been questions on this site about preparing such specialized version to avoid referring to essential early work by the same authors.

Double blind review also can narrow the set of acceptable reviewers. Often enough, a reviewer is chosen because their own work is mentioned in the paper, making it more likely that the reviewer will actually know of the work before being offered the paper for review. While some conflicts of interest can occur, these are normally pretty rare and can be handled via communication of rules for reviewers.

So, if an editor or conference committee agrees that there is little to be gained by double blind review and wants to avoid extra steps, they will likely just follow the traditional practice.

  • Yes, anonymizing the manuscript is a complication that I did not think of. – Gabriel Nov 18 '19 at 14:29
  • 1
    to anonymize, we just need to remove the authors name, acknowledging part, and rephrasing ‘we’ terms that refer to authors previous work. And again, even if the paper is accepted in one round, during final version submission (irrespective of journal and conference) authors can easily put these things back. Thus, what @Buffy says anonymize manuscript is complicated, does not make any strong point here. – user199 Nov 19 '19 at 5:16
  • @user199, you describe the common case, of course, but not all are so simple. There have been questions on this site from authors with more complex papers for which it is harder. – Buffy Nov 19 '19 at 11:19
  • @Buffy, I do agree that anonymous authors can easily be determined (or say the author belong to which group) if the experienced reviewers are aware of the previous papers written by the same authors — in some cases, the reviewers can guess. According to me, anonymity does not have any good impact on the review process; consider the case CVPR 2019, an AI-related conference, the number of submission was beyond 5000, this year CVPR 2020, the number is already reached 10000. How to find reviewers— a good question. Although it is a different context what OP asked. – user199 Nov 19 '19 at 11:34

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.