J. Mech. Des. Aug 2020, 142(8): 080201
Paper No: MD-20-1175 https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4046780
Published Online: June 26, 202
Research has shown that biases related to reputation, seniority, gender, nationality, and institutional affiliation exist in the review process [1,2]. Specifically, it was shown in Ref.  that authors from English-speaking countries were more likely to have their papers accepted, and journals were more likely to accept papers from authors who have the same nationality as the journal (with the strongest effect in favor of US-based authors). Additionally, a randomized controlled trial of double-blind versus single-blind reviews published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)  showed that single-blind reviewing confers an advantage to papers with famous authors from high-prestige institutions. Such biases tend to disadvantage foreign authors and authors early in their careers.
One means of addressing these biases is to increase the integrity of the current single-blind review system (which masks reviewer identities to the authors) by implementing an optional double-blind review process. In a double-blind review process, the identities of both the reviewers and authors are concealed from each other throughout the review process. The goal of a double-blind review process is to focus on the quality of the submission itself and reduce the aforementioned sources of human biases. By offering the double-blind review option, we hope to attract and publish high-quality submissions from a broader pool of authors.
ASME’s Publication Committee has supported this initiative by launching a pilot project. During the trial period, JMD hopes to collect data and feedback from authors, reviewers, and associate editors, which will inform future decisions as to whether to make the double-blind option more permanent.
How can authors opt-in to the double-blind review process? First, when submitting an article through the online Journal Tool system,1 authors will be prompted to make a choice between a single-blind and a double-blind review process. Second, if choosing the double-blind option, authors will be responsible for preparing their manuscripts in a way that does not give away their identities (i.e., by removing author names and affiliations from the paper’s cover page, footer, and properties tab of submitted PDF documents). Third, although author information should be removed from the manuscript, all required author information should still be added to Journal Tool during the online submission process in order to receive a copyright form and other communication from ASME.
While we anticipate that the double-blind review may reduce bias in the review process, there are pros and cons associated with both double-blind and single-blind reviews [3,4]. Consequently, we will carefully consider the data and feedback collected during this trial period to determine whether to continue to offer the double-blind option in the future. Additionally, because there is no evidence that double-blind review is effective in improving review quality issues, as always, we will rely on the dedicated service of our JMD reviewers to provide constructive feedback and fair assessments to continue to raise the review quality for all journal submissions—whether reviewed by the single- or double-blind process.
As we embark on this initiative, your suggestions for improving peer review quality and reducing bias in the review process will be welcomed as an important part of the process.
1.Resnik, D. B., and Elmore, S. A., 2016, “Ensuring the Quality, Fairness, and Integrity of Journal Peer Review: A Possible Role of Editors,” Sci. Eng. Ethics, 22(1), pp. 169–188. 10.1007/s11948-015-9625-5
2.Tomkins, A., Zhang, M., and Heavlin, W. D., 2017, “Reviewer Bias in Single- Versus Double-Blind Peer Review,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A., 114 (48), pp. 12708–12713 . 10.1073/pnas.1707323114
3.Snodgrass, R. T., 2006, “Single- Versus Double-Blind Reviewing: An Analysis of the Literature,” ACM SIGMOD Record, 35(3). 10.1145/1168092.1168094
4. Snodgrass, R. T., 2007, “Editorial: Single—Versus Double-Blind Reviewing,” ACM Trans. Database Syst., 32 (1). 10.1145/1206049.1206050
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