Confidentiality & Protection of Authors Policy
Manuscripts submitted to journals are privileged communications that are authors’ private, confidential property, and authors may be harmed by premature disclosure of any or all of a manuscript’s details.
1. Disclosure of Manuscript
Editors therefore must not share information about manuscripts, including whether they have been received and are under review, their content and status in the review process, criticism by reviewers, and their ultimate fate, to anyone other than the authors and reviewers. Requests from third parties to use manuscripts and reviews for legal proceedings should be politely refused, and editors should do their best not to provide such confidential material should it be subpoenaed.
2. Discussion of Manuscript
Reviewers and editorial staff members must not publicly discuss the authors’ work, and reviewers must not appropriate authors’ ideas before the manuscript is published.
3. Deletion of Manuscript
When a manuscript is rejected, it is best practice for journals to delete copies of it from their editorial systems unless retention is required by local regulations. Journals that retain copies of rejected manuscripts should disclose this practice in their Information for authors. Reviewers must not retain the manuscript for their personal use and should destroy paper copies of manuscripts and delete electronic copies after submitting their reviews.
4. Retention of Manuscript
When a manuscript is published, journals should keep copies of the original submission, reviews, revisions, and correspondence for at least three years and possibly in perpetuity, depending on local regulations, to help answer future questions about the work should they arise.
5. Peer Reviewers’ Comments
Editors should not publish or publicize peer reviewers’ comments without permission of the reviewer and author. If journal policy is to blind authors to reviewer identity and comments are not signed, that identity must not be revealed to the author or anyone else without the reviewers’ expressed written permission.
Confidentiality may have to be breached if dishonesty or fraud is alleged, but editors should notify authors or reviewers if they intend to do so and confidentiality must otherwise be honored.