Can a reviewer ask for the primary data (actual collected data in a prevalence study)? Is the information confidential or can be shared? Even if can be shared, does the reviewer have the authority to ask for it?

1 Answer 1


It's a very free process. The reviewer can ask for it if they want (though they would have to keep it confidential). You can refuse if you want. The reviewer can, as a result, decide to give a poor review. The editor can decide to reject the paper on that basis.

In a few cases there might be a good reason that you would not want to share your primary data, but generally, I don't see why it would be a problem. In any case, many journals (at least in my field) require, or at least strongly recommend, primary data to be made publicly available upon publication.

If you are worried about being scooped, you are probably worrying over nothing. If a reviewer was to try to present your data as their own (very unlikely and difficult to start with), it would be very easy to demonstrate, through your documented submission, that the work was yours and they were stealing it.

  • Thanks! was more concerned about the confidentiality part. So you can ask the reviewer to keep it confidential.
    – Polisetty
    Jul 13, 2016 at 7:31
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    Absolutely. It would be treated in the same way as the text of the manuscript - for the eyes of the editor(s) and reviewer(s) only. If you decide to make the data public once the paper is published (which hopefully you will...) that is a separate matter. Jul 13, 2016 at 7:35
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    @Polisetty if the data is indeed sensitive, that should be covered by the rules of your institution; and if they are on human subjects, you probably need to clear things with the IRB or equivalent. But in any case, it is likely that you can anonymise it enough.
    – Davidmh
    Jul 13, 2016 at 7:39

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