Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Double Blind Refereeing

A colleague of ours was discussing the following dilemma with Anna today.

A computer scientist is preparing a submission to a conference in Language Technology that has double blind refereeing. He is just about the only person in the world doing tagging for Icelandic. Should he cite his own work in the submission?

This colleague realized that, by citing his own work, he would make his identity known to the reviewers, and was worried that this might influence them. We told him that a reviewer would be able to infer the name of the author from the paper anyway because he is really the only possible author of that paper. (In general, in TCS the set of possible authors of a paper is not very large, and, using tell-tale stylistic or notational usages, a reviewer of an authorless paper is often able to determine the author(s) of a paper with a rather large degree of accuracy.)

Consider also the following catch-22 situation. A reviewer of the paper by our colleague could reject it because the anonymous author X is neither citing the closely related work of author X nor comparing his work with that of author X! It would be just great to have one's paper rejected for not citing one's own work, wouldn't it?

I have never believed in double blind refereeing. This story has reinforced my lack of belief in this system.

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