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?
My strong advice is a clear NO!
There are several reasons:
So, in a word:
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.