A couple of weeks ago, I wanted to out myself to a third party (i.e., not the author of the piece) about having been one of the blind reviewers of a paper that has since been published. I was emailing this person about the paper and wanted to signal that in my review I had flagged some issues that this person had recently brought up about the published piece. I was tempted just to attach my review of the paper so as to save myself the trouble of listing the issues over again and to show that I had indeed also had these reactions to the piece already at that stage in the process (issues that had not been addressed in the revised version that was ultimately published).

But then it occurred to me that perhaps the review itself is not okay to share. It was part of a confidential process and the comments were supposed to be meant for the author/s only. Not sure why it then followed that I started wondering about whether I should even out myself as the reviewer, but I started doubting even that idea. I proceeded to post a query about all of this to my Facebook network. While several people thought I had every right to out myself and even share the review, a few were strongly opposed, not just to sharing the review, but also to sharing my identity. I’m still not convinced by that perspective, but ended up honoring the confidentiality of my reviewer identity in that instance (and so no, I did not share the review). I am, however, curious to hear more perspectives on this or more arguments for that particular perspective as I haven’t heard anything particularly convincing yet. In the case of a double-blind review process, must the reviewer’s identity remain confidential if she is up to sharing it? Are there particular factors that would result in a yes or a no to that question? For example, would it matter if the paper has been published somewhere or at that journal in particular? Would something else determine the answer?

A point of clarification or perhaps a caveat. My question concerns academic journal article reviews. I understand that in certain situations all reviewers are explicitly asked to remain confidential. Such is the case when you serve on a reviewer panel at the National Science Foundation. I personally also find that in the case of tenure and promotion cases, it is important to remain confidential permanently, as the power dynamics are too complex. However, I don’t recall such rules when signing up to be a referee for a journal article.