I'm writing an abstract for submission to a conference aimed at a rather small research community. The abstract should be submitted anonymously for double-blind review purposes.

The problem is that in the paper I describe a set of interoperable software tools which are fairly well-known within that community (thus, it would be reasonably simple for reviewers to infer authorship when acquainted with the software).

How can I anonymize the tools properly?

I need to go into engineering details, so I have thought about simply referring to tools by function, e.g., data processing tool, data analysis tool, data conversion tool, etc. (references would in reality a little more domain-specific). However, as the set of tools forms a relatively unique combination, reviewers may still be able to infer authorship.

1 Answer 1


Confidentiality and anonymity are different things. There is no way at all of guaranteeing anonymity. When you discuss the extremely enlightening experience of an unnamed one-legged Spanish lesbian lion-tamer in Sheffield, you have pretty much made certain that someone could identify her.

If it is important to your professional community, however, that community should protect that person's rights not to be discussed in public.

For peer-review purposes, I would suggest that it might be best to offer alternative terms for the concepts that you describe if that can be done smoothly, but otherwise to trust the community to be judicious and conscientious. If we can't respectfully do that, we will never get anywhere with anything.

  • 1
    Thank you, I agree. However, I'm only concerned with anonymity for peer-review purposes, the tools will be named in the camera-ready version. I should've made that clearer in the question. The anonymity of the tools should serve to circumvent the constitution of any possible political or scientific prejudices on the side of the reviewers of course (not entirely unlikely in small communities where resources for tools are often fought over). Your last paragraph reads very sensible to me and supports my intuition.
    – s.d
    Apr 20, 2016 at 9:08

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