Published April 26, 2023
I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that maintaining confidentiality throughout the peer review process is essential to allow for the candid exchange of scientific opinions and evaluations. NIH and NSF have multiple safeguards in place to protect the integrity of and to maintain confidentiality in peer review.
All reviewers of NIH Grant Applications and R&D Contract Proposals must sign a confidentiality certification before gaining access to applications, proposals and meeting materials. (View a screenshot of the Confidentiality Agreement.)
NSF panelists are required to sign the Conflict-of-Interests and Confidentiality Statement (See NSF Form 1230P).
Peer reviewers have an obligation to preserve confidentiality during the review process if they have been asked to do so. While this obligation might seem obvious, it can be compromised in some seemingly harmless and other more harmful ways. For example, it is not acceptable to do any of the following without getting permission:
- ask students or anyone else to conduct a review you were asked to do;
- use an idea or information contained in a grant proposal or unpublished manuscript before it becomes publicly available;
- discuss grant proposals or manuscripts you are reviewing with colleagues in your department or at a professional meeting;
- retain a copy of the reviewed material (generally manuscripts and grant proposals should be shredded or returned after the review is complete); and
- discuss personnel and hiring decisions with colleagues who are not part of the review process.
It is important to also respect the confidentiality of the peer review processes. You should not engage in any discussions regarding your application or others with a review panel member.
Questions regarding peer review and confidentiality should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional helpful links:
- Integrity and Confidentiality in NIH Peer Review
- Why You Should Volunteer to Serve As An NSF Reviewer
- Case Study in Review Integrity: Abuse of Power
- NSF Privacy Act and Public Burden Statements
- The Office of Research Integrity: Preserving Confidentiality
Mark E. Lowe, MD, PhD
Interim Vice Chancellor for Research
Associate Dean for Research, School of Medicine
Harvey R. Colten Professor of Pediatric Science