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Confidentiality and Electronic Documents

Review reports created originally with Microsoft Word are not necessarily anonymous; this includes pdf files created from Microsoft Word documents. That is, these documents may contain the reviewers name and/or institution. The Chronicle of Higher Education provides some guidance for making a Microsoft Word document anonymous at http://chronicle.com/free/v52/i33/33a04101.htm#how.


Many scholars use Microsoft Word to compose journal articles and reviews of other scholars' work, then e-mail those files to editors during the blind peer-review process. But many do not realize the software automatically includes the author's name as a tag in the document's properties.

To see if Microsoft Word is recording your name:

The author tag may be seen by pulling down the "File" menu, clicking on "Properties," and selecting the "Summary" tab.

To remove identifying information:

In Windows: Pull down the "Tools" menu, click "Options," and select the "Security" tab. Then check the box beside "Remove personal information" and save the document. It is also possible to remove the tags manually--one document at a time — by opening up the "Summary" tab as described above and erasing the identifying information.

On a Macintosh with OS/X: Pull down the "Word" menu. Click "Preferences," and then select "Security." Check the box for "Remove personal information" and click "Save." Then resave the document. The tags can also be removed manually, as in the Windows version.

See also the Microsoft website http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa537144(office.11).aspx; this website has a detailed description of how to protect your personal data.

To our knowledge LaTeX and TeX documents do not contain hidden confidential data such as the author's name or institution, nor do the pdf documents created from LaTeX or TeX. However the only way to ensure confidentiality is to submit your review as a text file.

1. Young, Jeffrey R. (2006). Microsoft Word's Hidden Tags Reveal Once-Anonymous Peer Reviewers. The Chronicle of Higher Education: Information Technology, 52(33). http://chronicle.com/free/v52/i33/33a04101.htm (21 August 2007).

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