It’s Time to Retire the Term “Blind” Review

Putting ableist language behind us


As part of ASPB’s commitment to diversity (see ASPB’s Revised Diversity Statement, 2021), we are changing our language around peer review to use the phrase “anonymous” review rather than “blind” review.

We are joining the efforts of several other academic publishers and societies to move away from this unclear and ableist term. “Blind” in this context arises from and reinforces stereotypical understandings of disability which negatively impact blind and low vision people (see for example the discussion from the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Philosophical Association (APA)).

We particularly like the reason for this change as explained by the APA:

Much in the way that we have changed our language broadly to reflect similar issues with gender, race, and sexual orientation, we ought to be aware of the way in which metaphors based on disability, like “blind review,” are harmful. This is especially true if we want our field to be inclusive and our editorial processes to treat applicants equally.

If you are interested in learning more about the shift to “anonymous” review and inclusive language more broadly, we recommend this podcast from the Council of Science Editors, the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communication, and the Conscious Style Guide.

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