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Should peer reviewers be suggested by authors?

July 10, 2013 Filed under Blog, Featured, Publishing, Reviewing 

A recent editorial by Mounir Fawzi in Middle East Current Psychiatry asks the above question. The paper concludes:

Traditionally, peer reviewers are designated by the editor. However, a recent trend, which is followed by the MECPsych, is to give authors an opportunity to suggest reviewers for their manuscripts. A few studies have compared author-suggested reviewers with editor-sug- gested reviewers, but they have found no difference between the two types of reviewer selection in terms of review quality or review time. However, author-suggested reviewers were more likely than editor-suggested reviewers to recommend acceptance. Because of the usefulness of author-suggested reviewers to both editors and authors, we recommend that peer reviewers be suggested by authors, provided that the peer review slogan ‘reviewers advise; editors decide’ is always followed.

Fawzi, M. H., 2012: Should peer reviewers be suggested by authors? Middle East Curr. Psychiatry, 19, 197–199.

I am of two minds with regards to author-suggested reviewers. As an Editor, I appreciate receiving the suggestions. I can’t be an expert on all the topics of manuscripts that I am likely to handle, so having suggestions of reviewers to start with is helpful, even if some of the names are obvious and I would have come up with them on my own. As a rule, though, I almost never choose all the reviewers from this list because I generally can’t be sure if authors are selecting reviewers because they think they would truly be good reviewers or because they think the suggested reviewers are likely to give their manuscript a favorable review. This approach of being skeptical of authors motives and covering myself as an Editor seems fair.

In general, as an author, I don’t mind suggesting reviewers as long as it is optional, and I generally do so with the intent of finding people who would truly be good reviewers (as opposed to those who would be only favorable to my manuscript). What I don’t like is the practice at some journals of making reviewer suggestions mandatory. While I appreciate that finding reviewers is difficult, I don’t think the practice should be mandatory for the reasons above.

What do you think? Two poll questions below

Do you suggest reviewers for your submitted manuscript?

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If you suggest reviewers, do you select reviewers who you think would give you favorable reviews or reviewers who are most appropriate for the manuscript?

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