Authors are encouraged to remove any information from their manuscripts that might lead a reviewer to discern their identities or affiliations. When you submit the final draft of your manuscript following the peer review as its considered for publication, you will need to put back any references to yourself, your institution, grants awarded and other masked elements).
How to submit your manuscript for anonymous peer review:
Although thoroughly masking a manuscript requires some revision, the journal seeks to reduce the burden on authors and suggests the following masking procedures.
Check 1: Mask the Title Page attached to the manuscript
Masking the title page is simply a matter of omitting identifying information. The title page attached to the manuscript should contain three pieces of information:
This title page should omit all identifying information (e.g., authors’ names, affiliations and contact information). Do not add any running headers or footers that would identify authors.
Check 2: Complete our separate COVER PAGE file with Author-Identifying information
Our cover page title page with full identifying information should be completed as a separate file and uploaded for the editor’s eyes only. This page includes the following information, and more:
Check 3: Mask Location and University Affiliation
Referring to the research site or the university’s review board by proper names is likely to be second nature for most researchers/authors. Therefore, the journal suggests that authors perform a word search of their manuscript for location, and when found, make revisions as shown in the examples. Instead of writing, ‘These data were collected from incoming master’s level students at the University of Johannesburg…,’ mask the location using one of the following options:
Check 4: Mask University Affiliation in Statements of Review Board Approval
Instead of writing, ‘This research was approved by the North-West University Research Ethics Committee,’ give the region of the university or research site: ‘The Institutional Review Board at a large North-western public university approved the research.’
Check 5: Mask Authors’ Self-Citations of Published Work
Most researchers’ current work builds from previous investigations, requiring self-citation of published findings. Typically, double-blind reviews require authors to replace their names in self-citations with ‘Authors’ in both in-text citations and reference entries. However, given the relatively small size researchers in some communities, this masking method singles out publications. It makes it more, rather than less, likely that a reviewer might discern an author’s identity. Therefore, self-citations are best masked by leaving the names but ensuring that you use the third person to discuss the work. See the examples of typical self-citations and revisions.
Instead of writing in the first person, as shown in examples below:
The journal suggests using the third person to mask self-citations, as shown in the examples. Third-person reference to self-citation: ‘In the evaluation of major problems experienced, Walton (2013) found that learners who are meant to be accommodated in mainstream schools often find themselves as a “guest” in the classroom.’ OR ‘In the evaluation of major problems experienced, the researcher found that learners who are meant to be accommodated in mainstream schools often find themselves as a “guest” in the classroom (Walton 2013).’
Check 6: Self-Citation of Unpublished Findings, Manuscripts, or Conference Presentations
Authors rarely have access to materials that are ‘in press,’ ‘under review,’ ‘unpublished, on file with author,’ or a ‘manuscript in preparation’ unless they are affiliated with the research in some way. In cases when you are citing unpublished materials, masking follows the standard course of replacing your name or co-authors’ names with ‘Author’ in both the in-text citation and the reference entry. As an example: ‘In the evaluation of major problems experienced, the researcher found that learners who are meant to be accommodated in mainstream schools often find themselves as a “guest” in the classroom (Authors, in press).
Reference entries for Author self-citations should be re-alphabetised under ‘A for Authors’ rather than leaving the entries in their original placement in the section. Reference entries for ‘Author’ should show only Author and the year. DO NOT include article titles, DOIs, or other identifying information.
Check 7: Make Masked References Available in Cover Page
Information for the masked references should be included in the cover letter to the journal editor. Making that information available will speed the review process in the event that a reviewer deems it necessary to consult a specific reference in making her or his decision about the manuscript.
Check 8: Removing Meta-Data Hidden in Electronic Files
If you have collaborated with others on writing a manuscript, used Track Changes to make revisions or add comments, or exchanged the manuscript through email, it is likely that your manuscript contains hidden personal data that you will not want to share with your reviewers. Directions for scrubbing your documents of hidden data are given below for the most commonly used versions of Word.
Recent versions of Microsoft Office have a built-in feature to scrub documents of hidden data. First, note that changes made during this procedure are not reversible, so make a copy of the document you want to be scrubbed. To remove this data from MicrosoftTM Word®, follow these steps:
Remember to save this editable version to upload during the submission process in Step 2.
Ready to Submit? On average, it takes authors just four minutes to complete a submission to this journal – but before you begin, visit the submission checklist for points to consider ensuring you are well prepared.