A breach of confidentiality?

Case number: 
07-34

Case text (Anonymised)

We ask our contributors to send us short mini-reviews of interesting articles they have come across in their regular reading. Most of our members also act as peer-reviewers and come across interesting articles as part of the peer-review process, before they are published .

If they sent us one of those mini-reviews of an article they have peer-reviewed, and we kept the submission on file inhouse until the article is published (on a password protected contributor page), would you regard this as a breach of confidentiality?

Advice: 

The Forum were unanimous in their opinion that this would be a breach of confidentiality. It would also be misconduct on the part of the reviewer as the peer review process should be completely confidential. The issue here is the fact that the article has not been published. In addition to the confidentiality and ethical issues, there is also the problem that the peer-reviewed article may be revised and so would not be the same as the published article. All agreed that it was acceptable to comment on a published article but not on a submitted article.

Follow up: 

We have dismissed the idea of using peer review reports or notes in any way. We consider this case now closed.

Year: