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Blinded by peer review? Many academic authors actually like this approach as it largely removes bias from the process

All academics want their publications to appear in internationally ranked and listed journals; ideally ones with a high impact factor (IF) ranking. As you’ll know, in order for a journal to be ranked and included in an international database (such as Scimago) its content needs to have been peer-reviewed: the process of quality control carried out by other working researchers that is the cornerstone of academic publishing. 

As we discussed in detail recently in this blog over the course of Peer Review Week 2019, three main kinds of peer-based assessment are currently employed by academic journals:

  • completely open;
  • single blind;
  • double blind.

Although lots of journals still utilise the first type, where both reviewers and authors are aware of each other’s identity, surveys have shown that increasing numbers of authors strongly prefer their papers to be reviewed ‘double-blind’. Author names and affiliations are removed from papers in this approach so that both sides remain unaware of the other’s identity.

On the face of it then, ‘double blinded’ peer review is certainly the fairest and most open mechanism that journals can use to assess academic papers, as it removes a lot of the human bias inherent to this process. Studies have shown, unfortunately, that peer reviewers are biased depending on the country and/or institution from which authors originate. We’ve all heard stories along the lines of ‘I just could not get my paper accepted, but then when I added an author from the University of Oxford it just sailed through’. Indeed, in some countries, academic authors are actually advised to try to work with and co-author with international colleagues in order to improve their chances of publication success.

At Charlesworth Author Services we know that excellent academic research is being conducted all over the world, but is sometimes overlooked by journal editors and peer reviewers due to language and formatting issues.

Similarly, when entering your paper into a ‘double-blind’ review situation it’s important to check you don’t give the game away with the way you write: try to remove self-citations, for example, and phrases like ‘in 2019, we showed’, followed by a reference to one of your own papers. Reviewers will easily be able to figure out your identity and could then potentially act in a biased fashion. Along the same lines, it’s also important to make sure your acknowledgements section does not give away your identity in such review situations: a short note to the editor can solve this issue, something along the lines of ‘we will complete the final details of our acknowledgements section once our paper has entered the final production stage - this should be all that is needed when making a submission.

Peer review can unfortunately be a negative process for academics, and our Charlesworth Peer Review training course (which can be booked via institutions) concentrates on helping you find positives in the work of others. Being constructive when commenting on the work of others is a key transferrable skill. 

Additionally, Charlesworth Author Services provide a range of expert English language editing services, all designed to improve your chances of being successfully published in your preferred academic journal. Why not get in touch with a member of our Charlesworth Author Services team for more information, and get your writing edited and polished by one of our PhD-level specialists working in your research field? To find out more click here.

Our academic writing and publishing training courses, online materials, and blog articles contain numerous tips and tricks to help you navigate academic writing and publishing, and maximise your potential as a researcher. More details can be found here.

Maximise your publication success with Charlesworth Author Services.




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