The free full text is available for these editorials about the confidential nature of the peer-review process, and how it has recently been challenged:
Peer Review in the Balance, by Gregory D. Curfman, Stephen Morrissey, George J. Annas and Jeffrey M. Drazen, New England Journal of Medicine 2008(22 May); 358(21): 2276-2277. The first paragraph of this editorial:
For many years, the editors of the Journal have relied on peer review to ensure the scientific quality of the articles that we publish. Of the thousands of manuscripts submitted to the Journal each year, we publish about 1 in 20. To aid us in selecting those manuscripts, we seek advice from thousands of peer reviewers. Confidential peer review is a key component of our manuscript selection process.
Confidential review — or not? Donald Kennedy, Science 2008(22 Feb); 319(5866): 1009. The first paragraph:
At Science, We editors love our reviewers and know that our editorial colleagues elsewhere do too. After all, the process of scientific publication depends on the volunteer services of thousands of experts all over the world who willingly provide, without compensation, confidential and candid evaluations of the work of others. Because all of us in scientific publishing depend on reviewers, we’d better try to keep them at it, happy, and secure. But the following case, involving a lawsuit, a drug company, and the company’s assault on the confidential files of a journal, is a bad news story.
The outcome of this “bad news story” is discussed in the editorial in the NEJM. An excerpt:
[Judge] Sorokin’s ruling states that scholarly journals are entitled to the same protection of editorial confidentiality as journalists. The ruling also makes it clear that disclosure would be harmful not only to the Journal but also “to the medical and scientific communities, and to the public interest.”