Comment on:

The following comment refers to this/these guideline(s)

Guideline 16

Confidentiality and neutrality of review processes and discussions

Fair behaviour is the basis for the legitimacy of any judgement-forming process. Researchers who evaluate submitted manuscripts, funding proposals or personal qualifications are obliged to maintain strict confidentiality with regard to this process. They disclose all facts that could give rise to the appearance of a conflict of interest. The duty of confidentiality and disclosure of facts that could give rise to the appearance of a conflict of interest also applies to members of research advisory and decision-making bodies.


The confidentiality of third-party material to which a reviewer or committee member gains access precludes sharing the material with third parties or making personal use of it. Researchers immediately disclose to the responsible body any potential or apparent conflicts of interest, bias or favouritism relating to the research project being reviewed or the person or matter being discussed.

Case study: Lack of confidentiality in the review process

A reviewer adopts numerous points drawn from funding proposals which they have reviewed; the reviewer then writes their own manuscript, which is then published shortly after the review. The applicant recognises the content of the proposal in this publication and requests an investigation into the suspicion that the reviewer has appropriated the applicant’s original material.

The investigation confirms the applicant’s suspicion.

The comment belongs to the following categories:

GL16 (Practical examples)