This case raises issues of confidentiality around the peer review process and also conflicts of interest. An author of a rejected paper publicly identified one of the peer reviewers of the paper by name during a media interview after the paper was published by another journal, implying that the paper was rejected because of that person's review. The author also claimed the reviewer did not reveal relevant conflicts of interest. The Forum agreed with the course of action of the editor to resolve the issue and take steps to change the journal processes to avoid a similar situation in future. The Forum also noted that a reviewer being in the same field as the author is not in itself a conflict of interest, but a reason to invite a reviewer. However, it may be helpful to have some clarifying examples in the journal’s guidelines to help reviewers identify conflicts of interest.
Discussion and advice from the Forum