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.

Identity of the reviewer

Confidentiality and neutrality in review and consultation are the basis of any honest judgement-forming process and are an inextricable part of the reviewer’s or adviser’s own identity. This is because academic expertise can only be properly assessed based on the knowledge and credentials of an individual. It is also vital that the person tasked with carrying out the review is the actual author of the review, not least when it comes to being able to judge any potential bias.

What is more, protection of a research idea is a fundamental notion: it requires that the idea should be made known to as few people as possible. Therefore, anyone who has been asked to write a review does not have the authority to delegate this task to somebody else.

The comment belongs to the following categories:

GL16 (General)