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Earlier this year I attended a "Meet the Editors" session at a conference. The topic of double-blinding came up at some point. One editor claimed that there was a big practical problem: in their experience, it was much harder to find reviewers when the authors identities were concealed. I don't know how true that is generally, but I can imagine that people are keener to review articles when they have heard of the authors. As you say above, somehow a little more fun when you're reviewing something by somebody whose work you've previously come and across and enjoyed (or otherwise). I was a little sympathetic towards the practical issues, but it's not really an argument against double-blinding in itself. Another editor claimed that concealing the authors was a bad thing because author identities were actually informative. People expect work from names they know to be of a certain level of quality, that those names might produce interesting work. People might think that's bias, said the editor, but that works both ways. If you see something off in the paper, you might think hey, this author knows better than to do this, so give them a rougher ride than you might otherwise have done. This second editor is basically admitting that the review process varies based on the identity of the authors, and claiming this is a *good* thing. I couldn't help but feel that whatever bias the editor was talking about typically works more in favour of the big name/lab than against: it's not hard to make the leap that the editor is more likely to send the article out for review in the first place if it's from a lab/name they know, and that something that doesn't sit right in the paper is glossed over because "this person/lab" knows what they're doing. Incidentally, I disagreed with this particular editor on pretty much every topic, as I felt all the arguments they used in favour of existing processes were actually great arguments against them, which if nothing else shows opinions vary... In any case - bias is a real problem. I don't know if double-blinding is *the* solution, but I'm inclined to side with you in thinking that it's worth trying, especially after reading about your experiences with it!
Toggle Commented Sep 19, 2016 on don't you know who i am? at sometimes i'm wrong
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Sep 19, 2016