I am currently working on an abstract for conference submission. The contents of the proposed presentation build heavily on part of my master's thesis. Since the abstract has to be written anonymously, however, I am struggling to find a good way to refer to the work I did in my thesis.

Some thoughts on a few options I had so far:

  • Although my thesis hasn't been properly published, simply pretending it doesn't exist feels weird and academically questionable.
  • I'm worried that, by citing it using my last name while making no connection to me as the author of the abstract, I would make it seem as if I did significantly less work myself, minimize the apparent impact of the presentation, and thereby drastically reduce the chances of getting accepted.
  • Referring to the previous work I did using "in my master's thesis..." seems like the best option so far, but citing work without providing author and title feels odd too.

Is there any established way of going about this?
In case that makes any difference, I am working in the field of linguistics.

  • 2
    Is your thesis "not properly published" because it isn't done, or because it's not peer-reviewed? Apr 12, 2021 at 20:56
  • @AzorAhai-him-, there are other alternatives than just those two.
    – Buffy
    Apr 12, 2021 at 21:00
  • It is not finished yet and probably won't be before the abstract submission deadline. But it will most likely be done by the time the conference is held (October), and then be available only at my uni's library.
    – schoekling
    Apr 12, 2021 at 21:01
  • @schoekling Conference abstracts aren't that important in linguistics. I would just cite things as you did in your thesis. If it's a small conference, perhaps you could ask organizers to add it back in if/when you've been accepted. Apr 12, 2021 at 21:04
  • 1

2 Answers 2


Don't lose track of the purpose of an anonymous abstract. It is there to provide double blind reviewing so that reviewers aren't influenced by the reputation of the author. They aren't intended for final publication and an edited version is what will appear if anything does.

You could cite your own work as by "this author" listing it as unpublished or to appear or thesis, etc. That is sufficient for review. If the abstract is eventually published, it will be in a form in which you correct those references.

  • Makes sense, thank you. Would you recommend including the title when citing under this author (unpublished)?
    – schoekling
    Apr 12, 2021 at 23:03
  • 1
    Sure. It is probably necessary.
    – Buffy
    Apr 12, 2021 at 23:13

You certainly shouldn't be removing relevant sources just for the purposes of blinding; you can just use standard techniques for blinding instead. When I write an academic paper I just write it without any blinding and then at the end I make a "blinded copy" where I cover any references to my personal details or my own papers with [BLINDED], and also remove my own papers from the bibliography. That gets the point across perfectly well without detracting from the substance of the material. I have never had any complaints with this method. Here is how you could do this in an abstract:

Do toads control the human race with their psychic mind-powers? Adding to the experimental literature

Author: [BLINDED], Institution: [BLINDED], Email: [BLINDED]

Abstract: The present paper considers the theory that toads have extra sensory perception (ESP) and mind-control powers, first set out in McMahon (1901). Later papers claimed that toads control the human-race with their mind powers, and were the cause of both world wars (see e.g., McMahon 1922, McMahon 1938, McMahon 1950). Empirical evidence relating to this theory was examined in Tolio and Ribbert (1972), Tolio, Ribbert and Smith (1979), and Smith and Zhang (1988). More recently, experiments comparing the hypothsised psychic powers of toads against a control group of young human children were performed in [BLINDED], and further experimental comparisons between toads and grasshoppers were conducted in [BLINDED]. In this paper we extend the experiments in these latter papers to compare toads, snakes, dogs, and horses. We find further evidence that toads control the human race with their mind-powers. We hypothesise that our toad masters have allowed us to publish this paper for various nefarious purposes.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .