The Anonymised Review Study
In the STEM research sector, the success rate of applications to Australia’s competitive grants programs is higher for men than women. This trend, in part, reflects the disproportion in the number of women in different researcher fields and at senior levels. But a large body of research suggests that the trend is also partially due to unconscious bias. Removing identifying information, such as names and gender pronouns, can reduce bias and level the playing field — not just for women but also other marginalised groups and early career researchers.
Our office is leading a national Australian trial to study the effects of anonymising grant applications for in-demand scientific equipment, like telescopes, synchrotrons, and supercomputers.
In this trial, applicants are asked to remove from their applications all investigator names, gender pronouns, reference to where they work and any language that identifies previously published research as their own. By removing this information, reviewers don’t know who the applicants are. This process is known as anonymous peer-review. The trial results will be compared to data from previous (non-anonymous) years to measure any differences. The study will assess whether the anonymised peer-review affects unconscious bias in the application outcomes.
We are working with four Australian research organisations: CSIRO, ANSTO (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation), NCI (National Computational Infrastructure) and AAL (Astronomy Australia Limited).
This study will provide important data on the effectiveness of anonymising proposals to improve equity. The results will provide a strong evidence base to inform the government and the STEM sector to take action on more equitable future processes.
Find out more
Check out our FAQs. There are 12 frequently asked questions (and answers) about the anonymous review study.