Anonymous Review

The American Journal of Physics adopted the policy of two-way anonymous review beginning in September 2020. We believe that all our reviewers strive to provide fair and unbiased reviews; however, we also know that many research studies show that unconscious bias due to many sources affects our decisions.

GUIDANCE FOR REVIEWERS

We ask reviewers to work within the spirit of double-anonymous reviewing. If you suspect that the reference list may reveal the identity of the submitter, consider reading the whole manuscript before checking the reference list so that you can form an unbiased initial opinion. If an internet search for background information leads you to a copy of the submitted manuscript on arXiv, do not check it. Do not look for metadata in the electronic document that would reveal the author's identity.

GUIDANCE FOR AUTHORS

Besides removing your name, institution, and email address, remove any acknowledgements that reveal your identity. If you need to refer to your institutional setting, use descriptors, such as "a small midwestern university."

The best way to handle citations of your previous work is the same way that you would refer to citations of others’ work: "Jones et al. have demonstrated….," or, “the curriculum developed by Jones at Wesleyan College shows that it is possible to teach this topic to introductory students.” Even work that is not yet published can be posted to arXiv and cited in the third person.

You should, of course, always refer to your previous work only if it is directly relevant to your current work, but anonymous review makes it particularly important to be selective in self-citations. There may be occasions when a self-citation could be helpful to readers but is not essential for review of your manuscript. In this case, when you submit your manuscript, be sure to inform the editor in your cover letter that you hope to add self-citations if the paper is accepted.

If, after considering all these options, you determine that the reference to your earlier work is essential to the manuscript and you are unable to refer to it anonymously (note that matching both these two conditions is rare), you must provide an anonymized copy of the work to the editor to send to the reviewers. In that case, the reference should say, "Anonymized copy of this work will be shared with the reviewers by the editor."

For more information, see the editorial announcing the policy in the December 2020 issue. The information above is excerpted from that editorial.