When should the authors anonymize themselves in a paper submitted to a conference for review?

When should the authors anonymize themselves in a paper submitted to a conference for review?

Several general concepts:

  • Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people of similar competence to the producers of the work (peers). — Wikipedia

  • Single-blind describes experiments where information that could introduce bias or otherwise skew the result is withheld from the participants, but the experimenter will be in full possession of the facts.

  • Double-blind describes an especially stringent way of conducting an experiment which attempts to eliminate subjective, unrecognized biases carried by an experiment’s subjects (usually human) and conductors. — Wikipedia

In summary, “peer reviewed” means that your paper will be reviewed by one ore more reviewers before being accepted/published. If the peer review process is single-blind or double-blind, you should anonymize yourselves.

How and what to anonymize for papers depends on the conference/journal’s requirement. For a general reference, you may take a look at the Section “Anonymizing rules” of SOSP 2013’s “Submission Guidelines”:

As an author, you should not identify yourself in the paper either explicitly or by implication (e.g., through the references or acknowledgments). However, only non-destructive anonymization is required. For example, system names may be left un-anonymized, if the system name is important for a reviewer to be able to evaluate the work.

Additionally, please take the following steps when preparing your submission:

  • Remove authors’ names and affiliations from the title page.

  • Remove acknowledgement of identifying names and funding sources.

  • Use care in naming your files. Source file names, e.g., Joe.Smith.dvi,
    are often embedded in the final output as readily accessible comments.

  • Use care in referring to related work, particularly your own. Do not
    omit references to provide anonymity, as this leaves the reviewer
    unable to grasp the context. Instead, a good solution is to reference
    your past work in the third person, just as you would any other piece
    of related work.



  • If you have a concurrent submission, reference it as follows: “Closely
    related work describes a microkernel implementation [Anonymous 2013].”
    with the corresponding citation: “[Anonymous 2013] Under submission.
    Details omitted for double-blind reviewing.”


  • Work that extends an author’s previous workshop paper is welcome, but
    authors should (a) acknowledge their own previous workshop
    publications with an anonymous citation and (b) explain the
    differences between the SOSP submission and the prior workshop paper.


  • If you cite anonymous work, you must also send the deanonymized
    reference(s) to the PC chair in a separate email.

We recognize that, even following these guidelines, closely building
on your own prior work may indirectly reveal your identity. Even
though a reviewer might think they can guess which group you are from,
s/he should have some doubts.


Answered by Eric Z Ma.

Eric Z Ma

Eric is a father and systems guy. Eric is interested in building high-performance and scalable distributed systems and related technologies. The views or opinions expressed here are solely Eric's own and do not necessarily represent those of any third parties.

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