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For context: I had this question when reading this question.

I'm not in academics, but I wonder, why is a referee anonymous in the first place?

The only reason that comes to my mind is that a referee wants to give their opinion on a paper freely, without thinking about potential retaliation in any form. It might be an intimidating situation to criticize the paper of a well-known researcher in the field, but if you can do that anonymously, you can speak your mind freely.

If that's the reason, then why are the authors of a paper not anonymous too, to avoid similar biases and fears of retaliation? After all, if the well-known author was anonymous too, you would not know they are well-known researchers.

Seems to me, the authors of a paper need at least as much protection from personal retaliation (or similar) as the referees.

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