In non-mumbo-jumbo speak: Scientists who bust their asses and write a paper submit it to a journal, and that journal arranges reviewers. The paper authors don’t know who’s marking their hard work up in red ink, and the reviewers don’t know whose work they’re marking up. In theory.
It’s designed to keep everyone to focused on good science, and not gender, race, rivalry, and other forms of bias. But here’s a ticklish question: What if you deduce the identity of your reviewers?
Part of writing science news about a study is to bug the paper’s author(s). I generally trick them into thinking our chat will be about 10 minutes. But what I should really say in a blind query is this: “I don’t think I’ll need more than 10 minutes of your time. But that depends on how interesting the stuff you have to say is, and how well you say it. So, it could be more like an hour, or 2-3 minutes, if you get my gist.”
When I bug the author, I work through the bread-and-butter questions (how did you do it? what does it mean? what’s next?) and take a few interesting tangents along the way. One of the final questions I ask is: “Who would you recommend I talk to that’s familiar with this field, but wasn’t involved with your work?”