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In an answer to a question about the confidentiality of reviews, I basically said you cannot reveal information about the review until the paper is publicly available. This question about revealing information after publication is making me rethink my answer. The question I have is, is the information (e.g., title, authors and abstract) that you are given to decide if you want to review confidential?

It seems to me that the process of agreeing to do a review is NOT

  1. Please review our reviewer guidelines (including confidentiality policies),
  2. If you accept these guidelines please look at this abstract and let us know if you want to review.

Rather, it seems it is

  1. Please look at this abstract
  2. If it interests you, please consider our review guidelines.

This suggests to me that the initial information (title, authors and abstract in a non double blind review) are not confidential.

1 Answer 1

Well, as you said, there is no rule that explicitly says that the information mentioned in a “invitation to review” is confidential. Yet, as with the related questions, there is a big grey area around the process of peer-review. Many people would expect this information to be kept confidential… and it does make sense: after all, the reason you gained access to what is (at that stage) privileged information is for the purpose that you may review it. It is part of the review process.

Let's see it another way: this situation is not so different from the case where you would accept a review, then drop it (write to the editor to pull out) upon learning that you won't have time to do it. Morally, those two situations are close to one another.