Manuscripts should 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 of the review of their manuscript.In addition, the editor should respect reviewer rights to confidentiality. It may need to be breached only in order to prevent fraud and deception.
Editors must not disclose information about manuscripts (including their receipt, content, status in the reviewing process, criticism by reviewers, or outcome of the reviewing process) to anyone other than the authors and reviewers. This includes requests to use the materials for legal proceedings.
Editors should notify their reviewers that manuscripts sent for review are confidential communications and 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 before the manuscript is published. Reviewers must be prohibited from making copies of the manuscript and sharing it with any other party, except with the permission of the editor.
Reviewer comments should not be published or otherwise made public without permission of reviewer, authors and the editor.
The Journal policy is to blind authors to reviewer identity. If reviewer comments sent to authors are not signed, the reviewer identity must not be revealed to authors or anyone else without the reviewers’ expressed written permission.
Peer reviewers’ comments should not be published without permission of the reviewer and authors. At the same time, 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.
Patients have a right to privacy that should not be infringed without informed consent. Identifying information, including patients’ names, initials, or hospital numbers, should not be published in written descriptions, photographs, and pedigrees unless the information is essential for scientific purposes and the patient (or parent or guardian) gives written informed consent for publication.
Informed consent for this purpose requires that a patient who is identifiable be shown the manuscript to be published. Authors should disclose to these patients whether any potential identifiable material might be available via the Internet as well as in print after publication.
Patient consent should be written and archived with the Journal, the authors, or both, as dictated by local regulations or laws. Applicable laws vary from locale to locale, and Journals should establish their own policies with legal guidance.
In order to better protect patient identity, written consent of patients can be archived by the authors. In this case, the authors should provide the Journal with a written statement that attests that they have received and archived written patient consent.
Identifying details should be omitted if they are not essential. Complete anonymity is difficult to achieve, however, and informed consent should be obtained if there is any doubt. For example, masking the eye region in photographs of patients is inadequate protection of anonymity. If identifying characteristics are altered to protect anonymity, such as in genetic pedigrees, authors should provide assurance that alterations do not distort scientific meaning and editors should so note. The requirement for informed consent should be included in the Journal’s instructions for authors. When informed consent has been obtained it should be indicated in the published article.