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Recommending Reviewers

During the course of publishing a manuscript, your work will need to be assessed by several peer reviewers. This is part of the value publishers provide and is essential to maintain trust in the research that is being made public. The journal editor makes the final decision on your manuscript but he will usually base this decision off the comments and recommendations provided by the peer reviewers. It is also their responsibility to select appropriate reviewers for your manuscript; however, this can often be a difficult process due to busy schedules and holiday periods. So to help speed this up, during the submission process you will often be asked to suggest potential reviewers for your manuscript. But how do you know who to pick?

Let’s look at a few simple rules to choosing a reviewer:

  • Look to your reading and references
    A good place to start looking for potential reviewers is in the articles you read or references you’ve used. Authors on these papers will be knowledgeable in fields related to your work and therefore would have a good background from which to assess the various aspects of your manuscript.
  • Network
    You may have met people at conferences, poster sessions, or other networking events. These people are active in your field and may have shown interest in your work. They will also be up to date on the literature and techniques in the field and so would make excellent candidates to review your manuscript.
  • Aim for younger and mid-level researchers
    Heads of department or high-level professors may seem like the most ideal people to evaluate your manuscript; however, they are likely too busy to take on much peer review. Younger scientists are in the process of establishing their careers and authority in the field so they are more likely to be active in the peer review process.
  • Be cross-disciplinary
    If your work is interdisciplinary or uses an analysis method from another field, consider suggesting researchers in this area as well. Although they may not be as familiar with your primary field, they will have the expertise to evaluate your use of the method, which is an important overall contribution to improving your manuscript.

During the recommendation process you may also wish to suggest potential reviewers that you would like excluded from consideration. This could be because you have recently collaborated with them, or perhaps you have a conflict of interest. No matter what the reason, if requesting people to be excluded, you should always provide a reason so the editor can assess whether they feel choosing them would result in an unfair review.

But remember: although your suggestions can help speed up the review process, the editor always gets final say on who will see your manuscript.