Sunday, July 02, 2006

the conspicuously blind

Journal authors are often asked to blind their articles so that reviewers are not able to discern who the author of the article is. I suspect that some authors recognize that, if anything, it would be to their advantage to have their identity known, and they blind their articles in such a way as to make their identity as the author more, rather than less, obvious. I'm reviewing an article today that's exemplary of one way of doing this. The bibliography has a stretch literally analogous to this:
Festive, A.V. 1999 "Title." Journal.
Flamingo, B.W. 2004 "Title." Journal.
Flyslayer, C.X. 2003 "Title." Journal.
REMOVED. 2003a
REMOVED. 2003b
Frenchkiss, D.Y. 1979. "Title." Journal.
Frostbite, E.Z. 2003. "Title." Journal.
Hmm, I wonder if that does anything to narrow down who the author might be.

(At Wisconsin, the qualifying exam system is anonymous in that exams are identified and graded by number rather than name. My experience has been that, if one is familar with students taking the exam, one can usually tell which exam was written by which person. Some students blatantly tip off who they are, although it is unclear whether they do this because they believe it is to their advantage--rightly, as it is typically harder to fail someone you know than a number--or just because they have no inclination to do anything to conceal their identity, especially given the time pressure that Wisconsin uses for its exams.*)

* As an irresistible non-sequitur, I should note that I disagree with Wisconsin sociology's qualifying exam system on both fairness and appropriateness grounds and wish it were different. I could go on, but it would only get me worked up and besides, it would be indiscreet.


dorotha said...

oooooh! i want to change my last name from harried to frenchkiss. is D.Y. a man? is he single?

jeremy said...

I didn't think you were the type to change your name upon betrotha', dorotha.

Kieran said...

I should note that I disagree with Wisconsin sociology's qualifying exam system

People tend to disagree most with those aspects of the graduate program they teach in that differ most from the program they were trained in. Seeing as their program's system produced them, they reason, it must have a lot to recommend it. (I do not exclude myself from this tendency.)

jeremy said...

Yes, I am well aware of the problem where people hired at research universities tend to be success stories of their graduate programs and so are more likely to regard aspects of their programs as beneficial compared to the procedures of the place they arrive at. Indeed, I know certain people at certain places that pretty much regard the comments of assistant professors with regard to institutional structure to be worthy of summary dismissal for this reason. All that, and my general opinion about Wisconsin's system more or less stands. I have basic concerns about its fairness and about its comparative usefulness given the time students spend studying for them. I don't want to get into specifics here, though.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with my qualifying exam system too!! But that's mainly because I'm studying for a qualifying exam right now.

dorotha said...

you are right, jeremy. i wouldn't change my last name. i don't even want to get married, though i would for health insurance.

when i was a kid, i would always tell people that i wouldn't change my last name unless the new one had a lot of z's and x's or something. i was a bit of a goof.

astrid jane said...

Apparently I very cleverly concealed my own identity during my last qual because, upon meeting with a member of my panel (I won't reveal any names, but if you imagine the following statement being made in a vaguely Franco/Russian accent you'll get the full effect) I was told something along the lines of "ehh...when I found out that this test, I was surprised because it was..ehh....kind of bad, and I thought you knew this material because we covered it in class."