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Communications of the ACM

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Is Peer Review Fair When It Is Not Blinded?

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Peeking under the blindfold.

A study by Google researchers found that when reviewers know who did the work on a paper and where, it shaped their judgment.

Credit: Digital Services Georgia

In co-chairing the 10th ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining (WSDM 2017) in the U.K., a team of Google researchers studied whether blinded peer review of scientific literature upholds fairness.

In a test of single- versus double-blind submissions to the conference, the team analyzed various factors to determine the differences between either form of peer review. They outlined three key differences, noting single-blind reviewers were more selective in their choices of the papers to select, and they selected more papers from leading universities and companies, compared to double-blind reviewers. Furthermore, single-blind reviewers were more likely than their double-blind counterparts to submit a positive review for papers with a renowned author and for papers from a top university or company.

The Google team concluded when reviewers know who did the work and where, it shapes their judgment and they are more likely to choose papers from top institutions and well-known authors versus blinded reviewers.

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Abstracts Copyright © 2017 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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