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Many journals choose single anonymized review processing instead of double anonymized. I wonder what are the considerations behind these decisions to choose the single anonymized review?

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2 Answers 2

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The big advantage of single-blind review is ease. You do not have to anonymize the text before sending it for review (even anonymized, it's reasonably easy to identify the authors, especially with Google It's even trivially easy if the authors upload a preprint.).

The other main reason, I think, is less noble. At some level people want to base their decisions on secondary factors like the identity of the author/reviewer. Examples are:

  • If the author is a well-known crank, then one might want to desk reject even if the paper at surface level looks like a serious piece of work.
  • If the author is a Big Name, one might be more inclined to agree to review the paper.
  • If the authors are undergraduates, one might be more lenient.
  • If the author is an expert on the general topic, then even if the paper is radical, one might be more inclined to accept it.

Which is of course how bias manifests itself. But when things really boil down to a judgment call, it's extremely tempting to seek this information.

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    In economics, preprints are often half-published as NBER working papers or similar. People present working papers dozens of times. So even when journals are double blind, I tend to know who wrote a paper without looking it up. I am always surprised when I receive a paper to review that I haven’t seen presented at least once.
    – Dawn
    Commented Aug 18, 2023 at 4:21
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    I had one occasion where the reviewer looked up my name and decided to be lenient and give my manuscript a second chance instead of rejecting it because I was a student, it then ended up being published.
    – Tom
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 11:35
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Your question is based on the wrong premise: That journals make an explicit decision to go with single-blind protocols. In reality, however, they use this approach because that's how it has always been done -- one would need to make an explicit decision to move away from this approach.

So the question then is: Do journals see sufficient benefit to switching to double-blind reviews to justify the added complexity in workflows for authors, editors, and support staff. Apparently, a substantial number of journal editors do not see sufficient value in this. (Whether that is an objective assessment of the situation may be debatable. But the decision is made by people, and so at the end of the day, the decision is made based on the subjective assessment of an editor or publisher.)

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    Voted but not accepted. I think readers should put this post and the accepted post together to get a full view to this question. And very much thanks to you.
    – C.K.
    Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 10:42

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