Manuscripts must be reviewed with due respect for authors’ confidentiality. In submitting their manuscripts for review, authors entrust editors with the results of their scientific work and creative effort, on which their reputation and career may depend. Authors’ rights may be violated by disclosure of the confidential details during review of their manuscript. Reviewers also have rights to confidentiality, which must be respected by the editor. Confidentiality may have to be breached if dishonesty or fraud is alleged but otherwise must be honored.
Editors must not disclose information about manuscripts (including their receipt, content, status in the reviewing process, criticism by reviewers, or ultimate fate) to anyone other than the authors and reviewers. This includes requests to use the materials for legal proceedings.
Editors must make clear to their reviewers that manuscripts sent for review are privileged communications and are the private property of the authors. Therefore, reviewers and members of the editorial staff must respect the authors’ rights by not publicly discussing the authors’ work or appropriating their ideas before the manuscript is published. Reviewers must not be allowed to make copies of the manuscript for their files and must be prohibited from sharing it with others, except with the editor’s permission. Reviewers should return or destroy copies of manuscripts after submitting reviews. Editors should not keep copies of rejected manuscripts.
Reviewer comments should not be published or otherwise publicized without permission of the reviewer, author, and editor.
Opinions differ on whether reviewers should remain anonymous. Authors should consult the Editorial Ethics of the journal to which they have chosen to submit a manuscript to determine whether reviews are anonymous. When comments are not signed, the reviewers’ identity must not be revealed to the author or anyone else without the reviewers’ permission.
Some journals publish reviewers’ comments with the manuscript. No such procedure should be adopted without the consent of the authors and reviewers. However, reviewers’ comments should be sent to other persons reviewing the same manuscript, which helps reviewers learn from the review process. Reviewers also may be notified of the editor’s decision to accept or reject a manuscript.