Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Anonymous Reviews and pdf Documents

I like it when reviewers send me (as an editor) their reviews in the form of annotated pdf documents, as it is easy and efficient for authors to download these and use them for revision purposes. Some reviewers still prefer to upload a text document with comments keyed to page/line numbers, and every once in a long while I get actual paper in the mail, typically a papyrus scroll with hieroglyph markings (a.k.a. the manuscript hard copy with pen/pencil annotations).

The annotated pdf is a problem if the reviewer wants to be anonymous and doesn't take steps to remove their name from the commenting function. I have to remember to check this. If the reviewer wants to be anonymous but their name is stamped at the top of every comment, I remove their name.

Another problem is when someone uses someone else's computer/software to prepare a review, so someone else's name appears in the commenting box (unintentionally or not..). I look for this as well, and remove the name if necessary.

I have a colleague who works to deflect authors from guessing his identity; e.g., he will write in a review "Although my own field of expertise is X, I will try to comment.." (X = something that is not his field of expertise). I wouldn't be surprised if he has a fake name appear in his annotated pdfs (Mickey Mouse? Albert Einstein?).

Perhaps I should be inspired by that and change the photo in my blog profile. I could use instead a photo of my cat ("Although I am not of the human species, I will try to comment..").

9 comments:

anon said...

Well, that is a lot better than the plan of a professor in our department who writes as if he's from another country by deliberately deleting articles or misplacing word order.

So, when you get a review that says: "This work is example of what to not do when approaching important topic like this", you say: 'Ah, it's Ian Jones* again, why does that guy always get to review my papers?'

* Name changed to protect identity and imagined repercussions from the rest of the scientific community.

Mario said...

Yet another reason for not using your real name when asked to do so during installation of software such as Office etc.

lost academic said...

In our group we've actually traded computers around a little after doing some work on some (and getting me a new one!) so everyone has changed computers and the comments or properties-stamps letting you know who made a document or commented are all out of whack. The new guy has my old box (and frequently my name), mine reads something generic, and so on. Sounds like an easy feature Adobe or MS could add--make comments anonymous.

Anonymous said...

In extremity/paranoia, I use the British English spell-checker when submitting a negative review. A little colour added in hopes of disguising my identity....

dp said...

As far as I am concerned,your profile photo does not imply a human original at all:)

Anonymous said...

I have to (begrudgingly) admit, Adobe seems so much clunkier than Word for revising documents. I'm doing it right now - checking to see how a grad student incorporated my suggestions - and those pop-up boxes just suck, especially when there are dozens per page.

I found in the commenting toolbar, show >>> commenting preferences, a box to unclick for "always use author log-in" under "making comments". It seems like this should anonymize comments.

Fred said...

You can review documents online now too without needing to install anything - at A.nnotate.com you can upload a PDF or Word document, view it in the browser, highlight text and write a note. There's some info on using A.nnotate for peer review.

You email a link to reviewers to let them add their comments. Everyone who can view the document can add new comments or reply to existing ones to answer issues raised. Notes get displayed as movable boxes on the text, in the right margin, or as footnotes. Reviewers can change the name used to sign notes (e.g. to 'reviewerX') to keep things anonymous if needed, and the editor can delete/edit notes before sending the link back to the authors.

Alex said...

PDF files are very important for me,because of I often work with theirs. Besides yesterday near dozen pdf files were damaged. I entered in the Internet and observed there - pdfrecovery. It solved my issue for seconds and absolutely free I was amazed.

dpwe said...

I just had this problem for this reason (trying to submit an annotated PDF as part of peer review). I found this very nice way to effectively bulk-anonymize PDF comments: see the message from try67 at
http://forums.adobe.com/message/3867714