Over the last couple of decades, the evidence of implicit bias has been piling up, including evidence of its role in review of journal articles. So you’d think this would lead to more journals adopting a double-anonymous process, in which names of authors are concealed from reviewers. Shocking, then, to learn that The American Economic Review is moving in the opposite direction. As Ingrid Robeyns rightly notes, their reasons are pretty poor: (1) Reviewers can google article names and thereby lose the anonymity. (Robeyns has a great suggestion here: Require submission of articles under a different title from that used online. Also, ask the referees NOT to seek out this information and to reveal that they know the authors identity if they happen to discover it. Yes, some referees might violate this policy. But that’s no reason not to increase fairness by having it!) (2) It’s administratively costly to anonymise. (Yes, but worth every penny if you care about publishing the best work– and not actually all that costly if you build it into the increasingly widely used submission software.) (3) With anonymity, it’s harder for referees to check for potential conflicts of interest. (Fine– then do this at a later stage in the process!)
Petition to follow, I’ve been told.