Blind Myself: Simple Steps for Editors and Software Providers to Take Against Affiliation Bias
This letter contains suggestions for editors and software providers to help avoid affiliation bias in the initial and concluding stages of the peer review process. Submission management systems have a responsibility to ensure protection against affiliation bias. This can be achieved by automatically withholding the author’s identity and affiliation information from all editors, including the Editor-in-Chief, until a decision about publication has been made. Journals relying on email-based submissions are in a more difficult situation. Not having external support in confirming the submitting author’s identity, this dilemma can be resolved through the implementation of strict instructions and guidelines concerning manuscript submission and handling. In this case the “human factor” cannot be fully eliminated, while automated processes can only be changed intentionally and with a certain delay. Therefore, with the suggested steps, submission management systems could become a strong guard against unconscious bias while also making conscious bias more difficult to impact the peer review process.