Anonymize authors

When preparing articles for publication, it would be very helpful if one could set certain authors (the author of the current article and co-authors) to be anonymized ("Author, 2013") and to be excluded from the list of references.

I haven't been able to locate such a feature if it exists in Zotero, but it would be most welcome as the manual editing (and later reconstruction) of submitted articles can be a messy and cumbersome process.
  • Not sure why a simple search&replace wouldn't work?
  • Doing it manually - going through each citation and changing the names of the article's author(s) to "author" and going through the references list and deleting the references manually - works, sure.

    My suggestion is to implement a feature that could help make the process more convenient by eliminating this step.

    For instance by indicating somewhere which references have the article author in them and have them be anonymized automatically.
  • I understand the feature request, but it's a fair amount of work to implement and I don't really see why
    search: Troelsfb
    replace with: Author

    and deleting a block of references from the bibliography - something that I really don't see taking more than 1min total - requires a separate function. Maybe I'm missing something, though.
  • I don't see how you'd properly anonymize the citations using search and replace - at least you'd have to go through the citations one-by-one, wouldn't you?

    Replacing author1 with "author" in the following citation (author1, author2, and author3, 2013) would not sufficiently anonymize that citation.

    Anyways, I have though about this feature request for some time writing articles and have discussed it with colleagues who expressed a similar wish.

    I though the developers should be aware of it, that's all.

    Thanks for the good work on Zotero!
  • Replacing author1 with "author" in the following citation (author1, author2, and author3, 2013) would not sufficiently anonymize that citation.
    ah yes. I did miss something, that makes sense. Not sure if anyone will get to this anytime soon (and where would be a good place to put this).
    Could also be done as a plugin, of course
  • What is the use case here, exactly?
  • journal submissions.
  • And the rationale? Is author-anonymizing limited to the cite to the current manuscript, or does it cover all cited literature by the current author(s)?
  • it's commonly required - at least in polisci, I assume in other fields - to remove all self citations, yes.
  • That still doesn't give a rationale :). I've never heard of this, so it's not common in the life sciences. When referring to the current manuscript, I normally use "in this study". Any previously published (or accepted) work is part of the scientific record, and can be cited.

    I would just create copies of your own papers in your Zotero library, anonymize the authors for these items, and cite these. That only leaves the need to exclude these papers from the bibliography when citing them.
  • I think the effort to obfuscate the author's identity is a bit futile here. Papers are generally submitted for review to people closely involved with particular subject. As such, they generally are already aware of the labs performing work in said field. So they can probably figure out the author's identity from the content of the paper, or, if you do remove references to your own work, from the lack of references to such works. If someone wants to figure this out, they will.

    BTW, for more complex citations, like "(author1, author2, and author3, 2013)" or "(author2, author1, and author3, 2013)" you can use Word's (if you're using Word) wildcard matching:
    Case 1:
    Search:\(<author1>[!0-9]@([0-9])Replace with:(Author \1
    Case 2:
    Search:\([!\)]@<author1>[!0-9]@([0-9])Replace with:(Author \1
  • I mean, all blind review is somewhat futile, but this is a common requirement. I think it may be due to the fact that in the social sciences and humanities the use of first person singular and plural is pretty common as in ("as I have argued elsewhere" (Smith 1776)).

    The different versions of the papers don't help, as you then have to switch them back in once the manuscript is accepted, but the Wildcards are pretty nice.
  • The different versions of the papers don't help, as you then have to switch them back in once the manuscript is accepted
    You can de-anonymize the items in your Zotero library and refresh your word processor document. Doable if you don't have too many co-authors.
  • Oh, yeah, the above doesn't cover cases where multiple references are placed inside one citation, but it's not too difficult to derive a wildcard expression for that.
  • Hello,

    We general have to do single or double blind review for paper submissions (in education). While I agree that it's futile, that's the system.

    What we usually do is to assign an "acronym" or (sufficiently cryptic) string to our own papers, that we use systematically as we write new papers. I.e. across several new papers we might write, we'll use the same "acronym".

    It would be nice if there was an extra field that could accommodate that, or some extra generic fields. Even if this isn't used to make citations, at least the reference could then be found using the acronym in Zotero. (Of course, you could also place it in the notes.)

    Also see last comment here:
  • I also see a rationale for such feature. Even doing search replace on Word or writing manually Author1, Author2 & Co-author, etc. everytime you want to update a certain citation (not the anonymized ones) or include a new one, those that were already Author 1, Author 2... are updated to their original state (eg. Lautada 2019). Hence, the process becomes much more time consuming. I wonder if there is any update on this topic, as this thread is from 2013. Thank you in advance and for the good work in Zotero in general! :)
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