Privacy, Confidentiality and Informed Consent Policy
Authors and Reviewers
Respect for authors’ and reviewers’ confidentiality is a concern of the editors. Confidentiality may have to be violated if dishonesty or fraud is suspected, but it must otherwise be respected.
When writers submit papers for review, they are entrusting the editors with the results of their scientific work and creative effort, on which their reputation and career may depend.
Any information about the paper (including its receipt, content, status in the reviewing process, reviewer critique, or ultimate destiny) will not be revealed to anybody other than the authors and reviewers. This includes requests for the documents to be used in judicial proceedings.
Editors must make it clear to their reviewers that papers submitted for review are confidential communications and the authors' private property. Thus, reviewers and editing staff must respect the authors' rights by not publicly sharing or claim their ideas before the article is published.
Reviewers should not be permitted to make copies of the manuscript for their own use and should not be allowed to share it with others unless the editor gives permission. All copies of the manuscript should be returned or destroyed after reviewing.
Rejected manuscripts are not kept by the editor.
Without the consent of the reviewer, author, and editor, reviewers’ remarks should not be published or otherwise made public.
The journal’s reviewers remain anonymous and do not publish reviewers’ comments with the manuscript. When comments are not signed, the reviewers’ names must not be disclosed to the author or anyone else without the reviewers’ approval. However, reviewers’ comments may be sent to other persons who are reviewing the same manuscript, which helps reviewers learn from the review process.
An editor informs reviewers about the decision to accept or reject a manuscript.
Patients and Study Participants
Studies must follow relevant institutional and national guidelines, with prior approval from the appropriate institutional ethics committee and informed written consent from all patients and participants involved in the study, including consent for publication of the results.
Identifying information, including names, initials, or hospital numbers, should not be published in written descriptions, photographs, or pedigrees. If such patients’ and participants’ information is essential for publication for scientific purposes, the patient (or parent or guardian) must give written informed consent for publication. The same applies to identifiable patients. Authors should disclose to these subjects whether any potentially identifiable material might be available via the Internet as well as in print after publication.
When informed consent has been obtained, that should be indicated in the published article.
Consent of patients and study participants should be in writing and archived with the journal, the authors, or both, as dictated by local regulations or laws.
Since a journal that archives the consent forms will be aware of patient identity, some journals may decide that patient confidentiality is better protected by having the author archive the consent and instead providing the journal with a written statement that attests that they have received and archived written patient consent.
Nonessential identifying details should be omitted. Informed consent should be obtained if there is any doubt that anonymity can be maintained. For example, masking the eye region in photographs of subjects is inadequate protection of anonymity. If identifying characteristics are altered to protect anonymity, such as in genetic pedigrees, authors should provide assurance, and editors should so note, that such alterations do not distort the scientific meaning.