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Yes, I think that A is the best option, though it feels really awkward and somehow self-indulgent. One compromise I have tried (when possible) is to combine A and C. Cite your work, but also cite (and preferably interact with) someone else who is making a similar move. That way, even if the reviewer is suspicious, they might wonder which one of those two citations is the author...

elisa freschi

I use B, because I work in a small field and in some cases C is just impossible (no one else worked on it) and too many quotations of myself would make a reviewer suspicious, I guess. At least, this is what happens to me when I review a paper ("6 quotations of a not-so-known scholar? Including forthcoming papers? This is most likely to be the author herself!")


Re: Elisa. I certainly wouldn't cite forthcoming papers, as that certainly is a red flag. But that is why I combine A and C. I have also used B, but the problem with that is it is very easy to google and find the paper and thus the author. Which of course, brings us back to "blind" peer review being largely a sham...

elisa freschi

@Paul, I am not sure I am following. Suppose I write something like "As I showed in [removed for peer review], it is possible to formalise the above as follows:………" why should this mean that "it is very easy to google and find the paper and thus the author"?
(It is not a polemical question, I really want to understand.)


Elisa, I think the idea is that often a footnote is designed to provide reference for something mentioned in the text. For example, consider this, and imagine it is in the body of the paper,

"Some have even argued that epistemic standards should be raised in accordance with one's education level and cognitive ability." FOOTNOTE NUMBER

Suppose that the footnote says "redacted for blind review." Well, it would be pretty obvious that the "Some" who have argued such and such is the author. All one would need to do is figure out who argued for that particular claim (which can often be easy) and then they would know (or highly suspect) who wrote the paper. There are various ways this could play out, too, I just gave one of these ways.


FWIW a specialist journal recently returned a paper to me for "failing to anonymize" it, even though I used method A (correctly, I might add--I didn't screw up!). They only accepted it once I'd implemented method B.

In this case, I was referring to work I've done that's currently unique in the subfield, and so I judged that method B would, in fact, reveal my identity to anyone who'd encountered it (although I grant that might not be very many people!). Anybody who googled the topic would find my paper, and no others.

Anonymised comment

I combine A and B to trick any referee who knows my views into thinking it’s not me. If they guess that the anonymised papers are mine, they will find their guess later contradicted by the fact that my surname is referenced explicitly in multiple occasions.
As a referee, I’ve witnessed one author using also the following:
D - anonymise someone else’s papers to trick the referee into believing you are that other person
I think this is a dishonest strategy as you can actually make the referee think you are someone you aren’t. But then the referee shouldnt try to guess who you are and should judge independently of your identity, so I guess fair enough if you fight cheating with cheating? Not sure, but intuitively it seems to me that combining A and B is the right amount of deception when it comes to hiding your identity, whereas D seems to pass the limit.

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