Academic mefites: Did I compromise the review process?
September 15, 2012 2:10 PM   Subscribe

How much of an ethical breech is mistakenly sending a request for peer-review to a group of 5 people?

I made a mistake on Thursday afternoon and I can't figure out how bad it is.

I'm organizing a pannel for a conference. I had discussed it with a few people.

One of them sent me a request to review a paper for a journal she edits. In her email, she 1. asked me if I could review a paper and 2. asked me about the panel. The paper-review request is automated, so I answered that part on-line and started answering her questions about the panel. Midway, I decided to include the other panelists. And... Of course, I forgot to remove her email, where she asks me to review an article (with the abstract of the article attached).

To put it another way: now everyone in the panel knows I was asked to review this article. I don't think anyone in the panel wrote that paper, but I'm new faculty and I'm not sure I understand the full ramifications of peer review ethics - other than it has to be anonymous.

I wrote to her the minute I realized what I had done, but have yet to hear from her.

In your opinion, how bad is it? How should I handle this?
posted by Milau to Education (4 answers total)
Acknowledge, apologize, advance. It's not the biggest deal ever.
posted by spunweb at 2:16 PM on September 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

It's an error, not an ethical breach. It's not a huge deal; just apologize.
posted by grouse at 2:35 PM on September 15, 2012

Spunweb's advice is spot on, it isn't really big enough to upset academic inertia which means that in the long run its meaningless. If I got a mistaken email like that and then a well written apology, I'd probably just be careful about sending you sensitive things by email but otherwise forget about it.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:44 PM on September 15, 2012

People have done it before (i.e. send me confidential stuff accidentally). Usually I see a follow up ("please delete my previous email - contains confidential info accidentally sent to you") is good enough for me to quickly delete it without reading.

I imagine all these people are professional enough to just respect that. Don't lose sleep over it (there are much bigger things in life to worry about).
posted by special-k at 2:58 PM on September 15, 2012

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