Guidelines for applicants

This page provides guidelines* for applicants, which should be followed when anonymizing ISSI Team proposals. If implemented correctly, these guidelines will help conceal the identity of the applying Team and ensure a fairer evaluation by avoiding systematics related to unconscious bias.

Most importantly, applicants should:

  • Not include applicant names or affiliations anywhere in the science justification. This refers to all anonymous parts of the document, including proposal title, abstract, diagrams/figures, captions, watermarks, …
  • When citing literature and providing references, especially in the case of self-referencing, third person neutral wording must be used. For instance, the sentence “as we have demonstrated in Galilei (1610)” must be rephrased as: “as shown by Galilei (1610)”.
  • Any relevant awards from other agencies or facilities – e.g., for observing time or grant funding – must be cited in an impersonal way, and referred to using the “(private communication)” expression. For example, the sentence: “We have obtained 30 orbits of HST time (HST001) for…” must be replaced by: “Thirty orbits of HST time were awarded for… (private communication)”.

Following these guidelines requires working on the grammar and structure of the science justification (proposal Part A). As a consequence, it will not be possible to re-cycle previous material without reviewing it in the light of the anonymization requirements. The proposing Teams should take this into account when planning their (re-)submission/s, because text anonymization requires some extra effort.

Proprietary/unpublished work/data/codes

The following is an overview of how to quote proprietary/unpublished work/data from the proposing Team. For each case an example of anonymized reference is provided.

  • Published Proprietary models/codes (published/advertised, developed by the applicants but not publicly accessible)
    “Calculations run with the SUPERDUPER code (private communication) predict that…”
  • Unpublished Proprietary models/codes (developed by the applicants, not published/advertised, not publicly accessible)
    “Based on a model we have developed (in preparation) we predict that…”
  • Public data, unpublished results (data publicly accessible to everybody, no publication)
    “After inspecting FOCALPLANE archival data, we have detected emission lines in…”
  • Proprietary data, unpublished results (data accessible only to the proposing Team, no publication)
    “From the analysis of existing JWST spectra we have selected a sample of suitable candidates…”
  • Proprietary data, published results (data accessible only to the proposing Team, published)
    If the statement refers to results contained in a publication:
    “As shown by Author et al (2019), Titan is a perfect laboratory for …”
    If the statement refers to new results, not contained in a publication:
    The analysis of existing ORBITER data has revealed that...”

All these formulations are sufficiently ambiguous and can be safely used in the text. Of course, you can (and should) be explicit in the non-anonymized sections (i.e., the description of Team member expertise and project contributions in Part B of the proposal). If necessary this will give the reviewers the opportunity to check, in the second stage of the proposal evaluation, the correctness of the anonymized statements.

Continuation/follow-up proposals

In some cases a proposal may be a continuation/follow-up of an earlier collaboration, either at ISSI or elsewhere, involving the same or a similar Team. The data and the results from that proposal may play a crucial role for the new submission and hence need to be properly referred to. In such instances achieving full anonymity may be hard.
The general guideline is that, whatever option the applicants decide to use, the indentity of the proposing Team has to remain sufficiently ambiguos. For instance, a sentence like this:

“This is the continuation of a previous ISSI Team project. The analysis of the data so far revealed that Jupiter has at least four satellites (Galilei 1609).”

violates the anonymization guidelines. Although the reference is quoted in an impersonal form, it leaves little doubt re. the identity of the applicant.

If applicants wish to signal to the reviewers that the current proposal is linked to a previous collaboration, more explicit details – e.g. a list of past (on-going) ISSI Teams which the applicants have led (are leading) – can be included in “Part B” of the proposal.  Reviewers will have access to Part B of the proposal, which includes the full Team member listing and identities, during the second stage of proposal evaluation.

Here follow a few examples of how previous ISSI (or other) activities, and their corresponding findings, can be referred to in the science justification (“Part A” of the proposal).

Unpublished results

  1. “Analysis carried out by a current ISSI Team has shown that… (private communication from Team 1) “ [“Team 1” can then be named explicitly in Part B of the proposal.]
  2. “Based on the analysis of data studied by a past ISSI Team, we have now refined the sample…”
  3. “Recently, an initial study has revealed that … (private communication). We propose follow-up work to…”

Published results
(In the following examples, Explicit et al. are both the authors of the paper/s and the applicants.)

  1. “A study of  a sample of  17 events has shown that 90% them are compatible with Newtonian physics (Explicit et al. 2019) . With this proposal we plan to extend that study to a further 231 events. This will enable…”
  2. “Explicit et al. (2020) have shown that XYZ can be used to determine … We propose to exploit this technique to…”

Caution in using the explicit reference/s has to be exerted depending on the sentences that preceed and follow the citation. If an obvious connection can be made between the publication and another ISSI activity (which is then listed explicitly in proposal Part B), it is more appropriate to use the implicit version suggested for the unpublished results:

  1. “A pilot study of a sample of 17 events has shown that 90% them are compatible with Newtonian physics (private communication). With this proposal…”
  2. “It has been recently demonstrated that XYZ can be used to determine … (private communication). We propose to…”

Generic references to previous allocations

  1. “An ISSI Team was already approved to study this effect for the southern hemisphere. This proposal extends the analysis to the northern hemisphere.”
  2. “ISSI Team funding was already allocated to this research topic. The original Team ended up focusing on magnetic dipoles. With this proposal we plan to cover magnetic monopoles as well.”

* These guidelines are based on instructions developed by ESO ( We gratefully acknowledge the effort by the ESO OPO in putting these together, and their permission to adapt them for our purposes.