Ensuring Anonymity

To ensure the integrity of the double blind peer-review system, every effort should be made to prevent the identity of the authors and reviewers from being known to each other. Given the large number of submissions that we receive, the editorial team is not able to check all submitted documents for anonymity (whether those be articles submitted by authors, or referee reports submitted by reviewers). However, should the editorial team note during the editorial process that a document has not been properly anonymized, the document will be returned to its author for anonymizing before any further editorial action will be taken.

The primary responsibility for ensuring anonymity lies with authors and reviewers (specifically those reviewers who opt to upload documents as part of their review). Authors and reviewers should perform minimally the following steps as part of the submission process:

Specifically for authors

It is important to write your manuscript in such a way that your identity is not disclosed in the manuscript. The best way of ensuring this is to prevent referring to yourself in the first person. Do not use statements like: “In Coetzee 2013, I argued that …”. Rather rephrase as: “Coetzee (2013) argued that …”. If you prefer a more personal style, you can change references such as these back to first person statements upon acceptance of your manuscript.

In general, we discourage the practice of replacing your name with “Author”. This practice does not always successfully hide the identity of the author, since readers can easily lookup an article or book title, and that way identify the author. If the article or book title is left blank to prevent this, reviewers lose the ability to identify the literature on which a claim is based, thereby preventing them from being able to do an adequate review.

When resubmitting a manuscript for review, please make sure that the document describing changes you have made to the paper does not contain identifying information. Nor should you add acknowledgements to a manuscript that is still under review. Mentioning the individuals who provided feedback or the venues where the research has previously been presented can easily undo any attempts at anonymization.

While a manuscript is under review, please submit it and any cover letter in pdf format only. Including LaTeX source files or the original word processor document can easily result in your identity unintentionally being communicated to reviewers. 

Specifically for reviewers 

Although Language strictly enforces anonymity requirements for authors at all stages of the review process, reviewers can choose to identify themselves by signing their reviews. If you opt to sign your review, please alert the editor about this by adding a note in the “for editor” box when you submit your review.

For authors and reviewers

Word processing software packages save metadata with files. These metadata often include identifying information (the author’s name, initials, email, etc.). Similar metadata are also usually included in pdf documents. All files uploaded to Language’s editorial management system should be checked to ensure that identifying information has been removed from the files’ metadata. How to access the metadata associated with your file depends on the software that you are using. We suggest that you do an Internet search for “removing metadata” plus whatever software you use to find the best way to anonymize your document. We give basic instructions for how to anonymize Word and pdf documents below. However, depending on the exact version of a software package you use, as well as what platform and operating system you use, these instructions may not be accurate. If in doubt, consult the user manual for your software or do an Internet search.

  1. Word for Mac: There are two places to check for identifying metadata. (i) While your document is open, open the “File” dropdown menu, and select “Properties…”. In the pop-up window that opens, select the “Summary” tab. Here you will be able to delete any identifying information (author name, company, initials, email, etc.) associated with your file. (ii) While your document is open, open the “Tools” dropdown menu and select “Protect Document…”. In the “Privacy” section of the pop-up window that opens, tick the box next to “Remove personal information from this file on save”.

  2. Word for Windows: Open the Word document that you want to inspect for hidden data and personal information. Click the “File” tab, and then click “Info”. From the options that appear, click on “Check for issues” and select  “Inspect Document”. Review the results of the inspection and click “Remove All” next to any identifying information that was found.

  3. For pdf documents: Open your file in Adobe Acrobat. From the “File” dropdown menu, select “Properties…”. You can then delete identifying information from the pop-up window that opens.