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Blind reviews in mental illness research: Why they matter

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Blind review

We all carry biases, whether conscious or unconscious. Often, simply recognising these biases and maintaining an awareness of them is enough to keep them from significantly impacting our decisions and behavior.

But, when it comes to science, the stakes are higher.

In order to ensure that the entirety of the scientific process (from research proposals to the laboratory to the results) is logical and fair, it’s imperative that bias be removed from the equation entirely.

To this end, the research process frequently utilises blind reviews, which involve removing information about the author and/or reviewer of the material in question.

The blind review process is most often utilised to peer-review papers in preparation for publication.

Blind reviews in this context can be either single-blind (in which the author is unaware of the reviewer’s identity, but the reviewer is aware of the author’s) or double-blind (in which neither the reviewer nor the author is aware of the other’s identity).

These methods of blind review are essential to making medical journals more objective and publishing more accessible. However, it only addresses a portion of the overall process.

Before a paper can be considered for publication, research has to happen. And before research can happen, it has to be funded.

As any scientist will tell you, the availability of funding (or lack thereof) can determine whether a project happens at all.

This, in turn, determines whether the scientist is able to publish about it, which boosts that scientist’s or organisation’s reputation, which impacts their ability to receive more funding in the future.

Funding is crucial in fields such as mental health research, which is severely underfunded in spite of the rise in mental illness around the world.

As with the peer-review process for scientific papers, utilising a blind review format is crucial to ensuring that the funding process is as free of bias as possible.

In the blind review process for research funding, the applicant’s identifying information (including name, institution, and demographic information) is removed from their proposal.

As a result, the reviewers tend to focus more on the proposal itself and the quality of science than they might otherwise, as they aren’t affected by any implicit biases toward the proposal’s author.

In short, blind reviews help ensure that grant funding is merit-based, rather than person-based.

It also that innovative, potentially cutting-edge proposals put forth by less experienced scientists from less prestigious institutions have a better chance of receiving funding than they might otherwise.

Ultimately, eliminating bias is what helps advance science.

1907 Foundation is invested in the advancement of mental health research. We seek to accelerate knowledge of Causes and Cures for patients with mental illnesses via medical research funding and media.

We support young scientists with big ideas that go straight to the root of mental health issues.

The Foundation utilises a unique, cutting-edge method for determining funding that is both identity-blind and symptom-blind, enabling them to focus solely on the science.

To help us answer the big questions, consider donating to our research grants or spreading the word.

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