How to stay anonymous in paper for peer review



I know how to prepare blind versions of papers for submission to journals. But is there a way to really make it blind when you are referring to a sample of participants who are a subset from an earlier published study that you have to reference? (eg. the full sample is described in Bloggs et al 2019)?

Just wondering if there is any way around revealing my identity in this way (it would be obvious that I am Bloggs as it is a small sample of human participants and we don't usually share this kind of data).

Not sure if I've explained this properly...



The general principle around anonymity is usually you should not blatantly or obviously disclose it, but you should not worry about going to great lengths to mask it; i.e, you shouldn't expect the reviewer to go to any lengths to identify you, as it's their job to assess in the spirit of anonymity. It's not usually meant to be a case of you preparing a paper that's bulletproof-anonymous, more that you shouldn't be sticking your identity/institution in the face of the reviewer in the hopes of preferential treatment.

It would, in my experience, be fine to mention the prior study, and that the work uses its data. You're still not stating you're the person that led both and it's entirely plausible a different researcher (or institution) used the data. The only times this has led me to reject are when the submission completely fails to notice it's meant to be anonymous and has names and affiliations on Page 1 (which is, sadly, not uncommon, though often the papers themselves that do this are typically either outright bad or rejects from elsewhere).

If you want to play it really safe, replace "Bloggs et al" with [redacted for anonymity] or similar on the submitted version. Unless the validity of the work utterly hinges on the reviewer being able to read Bloggs et al., this is a consistent and 'safe' way to handle it.

The other obvious fail-safe is to ask the journal editor, since ultimately it's going to depend on the journal.


Oh OK... I see! I normally take it very seriously and even say "in a prior study Bloggs et al did x" instead of "in a prior study we did x" so as not to reveal authorship. Thanks for the tips. I'll try the "redacted for anonymity" if I don't just state the name then. I didn't realise it wasn't really important. I guess it can be fairly easy to guess who the authors are anyway, if you are familiar with people's work. Thanks again.