Blind Review

The obsession with blind review of journal articles is peculiar. Why not blind examining or blind book reviewing or blind job selection? Anyone entrusted with these jobs is expected to evaluate in an unbiased manner, and if they can’t they should not be so trusted. I think all information about a candidate can be useful, including their identity. If I am reviewing an article by an unknown author I take particular care to ensure that they get a fair hearing. It can also be useful to know if an article is by someone established. In addition, blind review is often a sham, because information leaks out. Insistence on blind review effectively says to the reviewer, “You can’t be trusted to act in a fair manner”.

2 replies
  1. Stephen Wright
    Stephen Wright says:

    Isn’t in the point of the recent implicit bias studies that it turns out people can’t be trusted to be impartial if they’re given information about an author, no matter how hard they try. Whether or not this is something that they can be blamed for is another question, obviously. Could I ask about what circumstances it might be useful to know whether or not a paper is by someone established when reviewing?

    • Colin McGinn
      Colin McGinn says:

      It’s not wise to generalize those studies of unconscious bias. But my point was that if you do then you had better apply them to all decisions about people, which no one is advocating–e.g. blind book reviewing. It can be useful to know the identity of an established author if this enables you to relate the work to other published work–e.g. a paper by Quine.


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