In the last two weeks I have been through the most harrowing peer-review process in my life. A story and a lesson for all....

I reviewed a paper for a large Q1 Microbiology journal. Huge problems with paper. Detailed confidential review submitted to authors.

2/ Confidential comments were also submitted to the editor, to highlight the most significant issue with the manuscript. In these confidential comments I referred to "our work".

At some stage, the editor manually copied my confidential comments into an email to the authors...
This then allowed the authors to identify me, and threaten me (and our lab) directly. But that wasn't the worst of it....

In response, the editor and EIC sought to blame me, claiming that I had revealed my identity by referring to "our work" in comments to the authors....
They dismissed me as a "careless junior postdoc", without realising that the only place I referred to "our work" was in my confidential comments to the editor. I assured them my careful notes showed that my comments to the authors were de-identified.
Again, they claimed that my note keeping must not be as careful as I believe. All along, a dismissive attitude.

The final piece of the puzzle was the output from the review system, showing my comments to the authors were de-identified. The Editor and EIC stopped replying to me.
A week later, an apology from the operations manager at the journal. Nothing from the two senior academics that had dismissed me as "careless". The Editor had indeed mishandled my comments and had revealed my identity to the authors.
The lesson here.....never presume that confidential comments to the editor will actually remain confidential.

Peer review is ridiculous enough without threats from authors and mistreatment by editors. No more for me this year at least.
Thanks all for the support. Everyone wants some answers, but here isn't the place. Identifying the Journal and the reviewers would expose those individuals to the same horrible experience I had, and that isn't me. It will be dealt with through the appropriate channels.
You can follow @CHarmer_MGE.
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