Double-blind reviewing

Often when you submit a paper for a review, or are involved with actually reviewing, the conference uses a “double-blind” method. The double-blind method means that both the reviewers and authors don’t know who’s reviewing their paper, or what paper their reviewing.

There are really good benefits to double-blind reviewing:

  • As a reviewer you can be more honest in your review without expecting any kind of “retribution” from the authors, since they don’t know who you are
  • You also can’t let previous works or interactions with the authors influence their decision on the current paper
  • As a writer, you can’t let any baises of other possible researchers taint how you read a review, since you don’t know who wrote it
  • Should your paper get accepted, and you end up a conference, and you had one review that really tore your paper apart, you don’t know who you should be frustrated with, and it won’t affect your networking – unless you can identify the reviewer by comments they make to you in person

Of course, let me add a caveat, that with a lot of research, and especially as you get more specialized, the community shrinks and often people have a pretty good idea what other people are working on, and it may be possible to guess the authors of a paper. Or, if you’ve been a program chair before, you may recognize certain review styles as belonging to various researchers (and trust me, reviewers usually have an obvious identifiable style).

If you are submitting a paper to a conference that uses a double-blind style, then you need to make sure you anonymize your paper before submitting. This is usually done by:

  • removing the names of the authors and afflictions from the paper
  • making sure any reference to previous work is not written “In our previous work, we …” which makes you identifiable, but instead written “We are building on the work of so and so, who …”
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