Since semester 2022A the Canadian Time Allocation Committee (CanTAC) is requiring that Gemini proposals be written in an anonymous fashion. All applications received by CanTAC must now follow a dual‑anonymous (or double‑blind) review process. Many other facilities have already implemented similar requirements for their observing proposals (HST, JWST, NASA, Chandra, SOFIA, ALMA, ESO). Under this system, the reviewers do not know the identity of the proposers and the proposers are not told the identity of the reviewers. Reviewers' attitudes toward a submission may be affected, either consciously or unconsciously, by the identity of the author(s) (not only because of their gender but also race, career stage, place of employment, etc.). Withholding this information lets the reviewers focus solely on the science case of a proposal.
Starting with semester 2022B, the applicants will need to append in the Phase 1 Tool (PIT) 2 different pdf files, one of which will contain all the sections with identifying details, such as the sections on previous observing runs, publications, etc. CanTAC members and external referees will only see a version of the proposal printed without this second pdf.
Writing an anonymous proposal obviously requires some care from the authors. This is not particularly difficult and there are many online documents that provide helpful advice, such as the STScI Recommendations of the Working Group on Anonymizing Proposal Reviews and the ESO Dual‑Anonymous Guidelines. Here are a few important points selected from these and other documents, as well as recent CanTAC experience:
- Do not claim ownership of past work, e.g., "my previous work…" or "Our prior analysis demonstrates that…"
- When citing references, use third person neutral wording especially when self‑referencing. For example, replace phrases like "as we have shown in our previous work (Doe et al. 2021), …" with "as previously shown (Doe et al. 2021), …"
- For thesis‑related work do not identify the students. Avoid text like "These observations will be analyzed and modelled as part of the dissertation research of I. M. Observer (U. of Clearskies) and A. N. Theoretician (U. Niverse)." Instead, use an anonymized version "These observations will be analyzed and modelled as a significant component of two doctoral theses."
- Depending on the program element, it may be occasionally important to cite exclusive access datasets, non‑public software, unpublished data, or findings that have been presented in public before but are not citable. Each of these may reveal (or strongly imply) the investigators on the proposal. In these instances, proposers must use language such as "obtained in private communication" or "from private consultation" when referring to such potentially identifying work.
- Do not refer to previous observing programs at any observatories in an identifying fashion. For instance, rather than write "we observed another cluster, similar to the one we are proposing under Gemini program GXXXQX," instead write "Gemini program GXXQX has observed this target in the past…"
- The same goes if your targets are selected by one of your past or ongoing surveys on another facility or are Target-of-Opportunity targets to be triggered by data from another of your programs. Replace "Our targets were selected from our 1.45 micron WIRCAM imaging survey of this star-forming region from our program 21BC08", with "Our targets were selected from the 1.45 micron WIRCAM imaging survey of this star-forming region from program 21BC08".
- And the same goes if you need to refer to an accepted proposal at another facility for which you have not yet received data. Instead of "These data will complement our NIRSPec data from our accepted JWST program 1686 PI=Smith", say simply "These data will complement the NIRSpec data to be acquired by JWST program 1686". Do not take ownership of the program.
- Do not include the names of the personnel associated with the proposal or their organizational affiliations in page headers, footers, diagrams, figures, or attachments uploaded as part of a proposal.
- If you are re‑submitting a proposal first written prior to dual‑anonymous peer review make sure you edit it carefully to anonymize the text.
- If you are submitting a joint application with co‑investigators from other agencies you will still have to write the proposal in an anonymous way even if the other agency TACs do not require anonymous proposals. If you are a Canadian co‑investigator on a proposal led by a non‑Canadian, you are still required to submit an anonymous proposal. Make sure to warn your PI about this. All proposals asking time from CanTAC (led or not by Canadians) must be written anonymously.
Here is an example of non‑anonymized text from a sample proposal:
In Rogers et al. (2014), we concluded that the best explanation for the dynamics of the shockwave and the spectra from both the forward‑shocked ISM and the reverse‑shocked ejecta is that a Type Ia supernova exploded into a pre‑existing wind‑blown cavity. This object is the only known example of such a phenomenon, and it thus provides a unique opportunity to illuminate the nature of Type Ia supernovae and the progenitors. If our model from Rogers et al. (2014) is correct, then the single‑degenerate channel for SNe Ia production must exist. We propose here a second epoch of observations which we will compare with our first epoch obtained in 2007 to measure the proper motion of the shock wave.
Here is the same text, again re‑worked to anonymize the text:
Rogers et al. (2014) concluded that the best explanation for the dynamics of the shockwave and the spectra from both the forward‑shocked ISM and the reverse‑shocked ejecta is that a Type Ia supernova exploded into a pre‑existing wind‑blown cavity. This object is the only known example of such a phenomenon, and it thus provides a unique opportunity to illuminate the nature of Type Ia supernovae and the progenitors. If the model from Rogers et al. (2014) is correct, then the single‑degenerate channel for SNe Ia production must exist. We propose here a second epoch of observations which we will compare with a first epoch obtained in 2007 to measure the proper motion of the shock wave.
Note that starting with proposals for semester 2022B CanTAC may choose to reject proposals that are not written in an anonymous fashion or lower their grades. Note also that most other partners, including the US, have moved to DARP proposals, and their TAC might also elect to reject proposals that are not following the DARP guidelines.