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I am about to submit my article in a peer reviewed journal which requires the contacts of three potential reviewers of my work. I can think of a few names whose works I have cited in the paper (who, I think will be the best judge). Is it polite to contact them via email to check their availability (of course everybody is under time constraints) before I put their names in the journal website? I am concerned that it can be regarded as a conflict of interest or an attempt to bias their opinions. What should I do?

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I was in that position once, and did contact some potential reviewers. They all said yes. I personally don't think it does any harm, but as one of the potential reviewers themselves remarked, journals rarely use these suggestions, so I don't really think it matters either way. –  Faheem Mitha Mar 19 at 18:14
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2 Answers 2

up vote 39 down vote accepted

My strong advice is a clear NO!

There are several reasons:

  • The journal might contact other reviewers, not the ones you suggested.
  • Possible conflict of interest, even if you don't send your paper with the review request
  • The reviewing process is a business between the editor and the reviewer. It is specially designed to enhance the quality of the accepted papers (Blind, double blind reviews, etc). Once you contact the reviewers, any chance of a blind review goes up in smoke.
  • If the potential reviewer that you contact, is not selected by the journal he/she might feel offended.

So, in a word:

NO

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Great advice, +1. In addition: it's the editor's and the reviewers' job to juggle their availability. If the reviewer doesn't have the time, he can always decline, and the editor will understand. So this is definitely not something the author needs to consider. –  Stephan Kolassa Mar 19 at 7:46
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I feel contacting the potential reviewers in the way you suggest would at least seem awkward. However, something that is common practice at least in some fields is to send your preprint before submission to people that might be interested. The list of potential reviewers tend to largely intersect the list of potentially interested people, so in some sense this is a way to contact them in advance.

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However this would also be a problem for the double-blindness of the review process since the reviewers would see who the author was. Less problematic in smaller fields where everyone knows everyone else's work and the only anonymous people are the reviewers themselves, but if we're aiming for the most robust review system… –  Jangari Mar 20 at 19:38
    
@Jangari: of course, this practice is probably only common in fields where double-blind review is not used. –  Benoît Kloeckner Mar 20 at 22:46
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