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I'm submitting a manuscript to a journal using LaTeX for the first time. This journal is a little unique in that it features open source software packages, and you must provide a link to a public repository upon submission. It has a .tex template that I've filled in, but I'm a little confused about how to preserve anonymity for the sake of blind review. A reviewer could easily identify me based on

  1. My GitHub profile info
  2. My name embedded in the .tex file (obviously)
  3. Info in the acknowledgements section

It would be easy for a journal to programmatically remove sections with identifying information from this .tex template (such as author name, acknowledgements section, etc.), but I doubt this is done. Also, I have to submit a .pdf (rendered from the .tex file) along with the .tex file of my actual document. I'm a little confused about preserving anonymity vs. following the instructions of journal, as these seem clear that the template should be filled in exactly as is with no deviations. Is is just understood that that all potentially identifying information should be removed from a first submission, even if it means breaking (what seems to be) a journal's clear instructions? Or am I misunderstanding how this all works?

To provide extra context from a past experience (not directly related to the case mentioned above):

I've only submitted one other manuscript to a journal, and the initial process involved heavy assistance from my advisor (subsequent steps were taken on my own). The editor of the journal requested that I revise and resubmit, following an attached style guide. It was a 60+ page document with pretty arcane instructions containing a lot of counter-intuitive information. For example, it stated that the authors' names must be included as a footnote on every page (which would break anonymity), an acknowledgements section should be embedded inside the document (which could reveal identifying information such as location), etc. I asked the editor about this, and he was very helpful. He provided some specific instructions and stated that anonymity should be persevered throughout the document -- I think he was more concerned with reference formatting. However, this was a really confusing process as his instructions seemed to go against the "Instructions for Authors" guide and the style sheet he attached. To make things worse, the actual submission page conflicted with the "Instructions for Authors" guide and the style sheet. I did what the editor said.

My sample size is small (n = 2), but given the two manuscript submissions I've been through, it seems like either (a) I'm making a big deal out of nothing or (b) I'm really misunderstanding things.

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    I have found that instructions which apply to the final version of a paper (i.e., the one published in the journal) may not necessarily apply to the version submitted for review. This may be causing some of your confusion. For instance, since you imply the submission is supposed to be anonymous, I would assume that any instructions which require your identifying information to be displayed only apply to the final version. On the other hand, for identifying information that is not immediately visible (e.g. a comment in the .tex file) I would assume good faith on the part of the reviewers. – 6005 Jun 26 '17 at 22:39
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    Is the review process for this particular journal meant to be double-blind? At least in my field, single-blind review is the norm: authors don't know the reviewers, but it's mostly considered impossible to actually make submissions anonymous, since they are so often closely based on that lab's previous work and highly self-referencing. – Bryan Krause Jun 26 '17 at 22:39
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Follow the instructions. If you do it wrong, the journal will send it back to you with a grumpy note. Some journals do not practice double blind review but rather single blind, so the authors are known but the reviewers are anonymous. (Discussing the merits and drawbacks of this particular approach is unfortunately beyond the scope of this question, so please don't open this can of worms in the comments.)

In fact, once I had a journal submission returned to me because it was anonymous! The editorial assistant requested that I resend it with my name and other information proudly displayed. In that particular case, I had failed to follow the instructions. Don't make the same mistake I did -- follow the instructions!

  • I agree with this advice if the submission is not supposed to be anonymous. However note this sentence in the OP: "He provided some specific instructions and stated that anonymity should be persevered throughout the document -- I think he was more concerned with reference formatting." This makes me think that the submission process is actually supposed to be double-blind. – 6005 Jun 26 '17 at 22:46
  • @6005 Hmm, I had read that as referring to the OP's previous experience with a different journal, although now that I re-read it I realize that it's not clear. – rturnbull Jun 26 '17 at 22:53
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    Thanks for pointing that out, now I read it again I agree it's unclear, and could go either way. At any rate, the advice to the OP is: make sure the journal is actually double-blind, don't assume your submission is supposed to be anonymous. – 6005 Jun 26 '17 at 22:55
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    Good call. After looking more closely, the journal is, in fact, single-blind. I was unaware that this was a common practice. – haff Jun 26 '17 at 23:24
  • @haff It seems to vary a lot by (sub)field. I know some smaller fields prefer it because there are so few people working on particular problems that you would still know who the authors are even if it were fully anonymized... – rturnbull Jun 27 '17 at 9:42

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