I finally got the revision of my paper, but one of the reviewers complained that the paper is not anonymized. Since I'm not the native english speaker, it's quite strange to me.

Does it mean that I should remove authors names from the paper? If so - what for, and why should I do this?

  • 7
    Did not you read the CFP of the journal / conference? Did it state that the paper needs to be anonymized? If yes, you should not have put the authors names in the paper during review rounds.
    – Alexandros
    Jan 24 '15 at 19:35
  • 1
    In short: read the call for papers before you submit. Jan 25 '15 at 12:39

To add to @Brian's answer, in double blind review besides submitting your manuscript without author names, you should eliminate any information about datasets, affiliation or previous works that may betray your identity. E.g. for an Elsevier journal here instructions for double blind review to authors say:

Besides the obvious need to remove names and affiliations under the title within the manuscript, there are other steps that need to be taken to ensure the manuscript is correctly prepared for double-blind peer review. To assist with this process the key items that need to be observed are as follows:

  • Use the third person to refer to work the Authors have previously undertaken, e.g. replace any phrases like “as we have shown before” with “… has been shown before [Anonymous, 2007]”.

  • Make sure figures do not contain any affiliation related identifier

  • Do not eliminate essential self-references or other references but limit self-references only to papers that are relevant for those reviewing the submitted paper.

  • Cite papers published by the Author in the text as follows: ‘[Anonymous, 2007]’. For blinding in the reference list: ‘[Anonymous 2007] Details omitted for double-blind reviewing.’

  • Remove references to funding sources
  • Do not include acknowledgments
  • Name your files with care and ensure document properties are also anonymized.

Of course, this hiding of information is limited only during the review rounds and after your work gets accepted, the camera ready copy of the publication should include all the relevant information , that was hidden / anonymized during the review rounds.

  • 3
    I'm sorry, but isn't citing a result as [Anonymous] a direct proof that Anonymous is the author of the paper cited?
    – Ant
    Jan 24 '15 at 22:25
  • I'm also curious about @Ant's comment. Wouldn't it be better to cite your own papers under your own name (ie, the same way as you would cite anyone else's work)?
    – sapi
    Jan 24 '15 at 23:02
  • 2
    (Ant) No because you don't actually cite the paper in your reference list, this is the statement you write: ‘[Anonymous 2007] Details omitted for double-blind reviewing.’ They can't actually see what the paper is called other than a random year of 2007. That document properties is actually quite helpful, I never thought of doing that but will do prior to future submissions.
    – awsoci
    Jan 24 '15 at 23:23
  • @awsoci Yes but if I cite a well known result because I need it to go forward, and I anonymize it it will become clear that I am the author of the famous result.. Or am I misunderstanding something?
    – Ant
    Jan 25 '15 at 12:03
  • @Ant: Indeed, anonymization is never perfect. It does not need to be unbreakable, it just needs to be made reasonably sure that reviewers cannot usually immediately guess who the authors were based on a single glance. Some weighting needs to be done; if you cite X, then you can usually decide between anonymizing the reference (as shown above) and providing the full reference, but removing any hint that the authors of the referenced work overlap with the authors of the submitted document. If X contains essential information, that may be a reason for the latter approach, as is your scenario. Jan 25 '15 at 12:26

Some conferences and journals do "double blind" peer review in which the reviewers are anonymous to the reviewers and the authors are anonymous to the reviewers. In that case you are expected to submit your manuscript without author names (or any other identifying information.)


While Brian's answer and Alexandros's answer have accurately described how to anonymize a submission and how to find out whether to do it, I would like to add an answer to the concrete question asked:

If so - what for, and why should I do this?

The assumed benefit of a double-blind review, in which the reviewers do not know who authored a given submission, is an improved fairness toward submitters.

Reviewers are supposed to judge a submission entirely and exclusively based on its contents. They should not take into account the reputation of the authors or their institution (or lack thereof), as verifiable and clearly described results are to be considered equally valuable coming from a reputable as well as coming from an unknown institution.

Likewise, while one can hope for reviewers to behave in a fair way, keeping submitters anonymous is another safety measure to prevent any personal biases based on culture, gender, or other personal factors from playing a role in the judgment on the submission.

Lastly, secondary effects of the judgment might be avoided. If submitters are known to reviewers, reviewers might have external incentives to provide a good or bad review. While direct conflicts of interest are generally excluded by review organizers (someone reviewing their own submission, for example), indirect interests of conflict (someone being promised a position in exchange for a favourable review; someone writing a bad review to prevent a direct competitor from publishing etc.) may not be apparent to those organizing reviews.

With all of this in mind, not all conferences conduct double-blind review for various reasons that are discussed in another Academia SE question.

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