Friday, July 25, 2014
Myself, I don’t think blind submission would have much effect on changing outcomes. But I do think that all journals should adopt blind submission in order to increase the appearance of fairness. I’ve served as a referee for a number of peer-reviewed journals that rely on blind submission. I think in essentially every case that I either knew who the author(s) of the papers I was reviewing were or that I quickly found out who the author(s) were as an unavoidable result of the few minutes of background research I typically do to assess the uniqueness of the contributions of the pieces I review. Tax is a small enough field, and we generally post papers in publically available fora and/or present papers at conferences well before submitting for publication.
I favor blind review not because I think it will significantly change outcomes, but rather because I think the small costs of blind review are greatly exceeded by increasing the appearance of fairness. That law reviews ask for authors’ CVs is just plain distasteful, in my consideration. It is undoubtedly difficult to evaluate scholarship on its quality, factoring out the biases generated by knowledge about the author. But journal editors should at least try. I’ve heard many stories that suggest that law review editors sometimes make decisions based on letterhead, CVs, and author reputation. Yuck!