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In submission forms of academic journals, I often see the possibility to give names of desired / non-desired reviewers for the submitted papers. But very rarely I see fields for choosing an editor who handles the submission from the journal's editorial board.

When the submission form does not offer the choice of a handling editor, should one indicate a desired editor in the cover letter? Do some researchers (e.g. specific fields) commonly do so?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I would only do so if you have a very good reason to want a particular editor (or to avoid another one): while there can exist valid such reasons, it could also be a warning sign for editors. For example, if you ask that the editor not be the “usual” editor for your particular subfield, it may be regarded as you trying to avoid careful scrutiny. So, if you are not asked about it, and you don't really care (or trust them to make the right call) (which should be the majority of cases), just don't do it.

Regarding usage: most of the chemistry journals I know allow you to pick your handling editor directly from a list (although availability and workload management might lead to changes after submission), and some journals allow you to pick both preferred and non-preferred editors.

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In general, I agree with F'x's answer—special requests for editors beyond the standard process should generally be avoided. The exception to this rule would be if you feel that your paper, may end up being improperly assigned if you do not specify an editor. The primary reason I can think of why this might be the case would be if your paper is multidisciplinary, and you would prefer it to be in a different section of the paper than the one it is "normally" affiliated with. Again, however, this would appear to be a rare enough circumstance that there's little to be gained, and more to be lost (for the reasons F'x has laid out).

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To ensure the journal picks the right editor, the standard approach (in my research group) is to ensure the abstract contains enough information for choosing the appropriate editor/reviewer. This also helps people who skim the paper to figure out whether they should read it. (Disclaimer: we are a Computer Science research group, so the process is rather different as we submit to conferences). –  Blaisorblade Mar 9 at 18:27

In my experience, more often than not math journals ask you to submit to a specific editor or indicate which editor is closest. If you're asked then it's certainly best practice to do your homework and suggest the right editor. As the other people's answers indicate this seems to vary by field.

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I actually have been in this situation, but it was mostly a "Conflict of Interest Issue", since my adviser was the appointed editor for the journal I was sending my paper to, and he was also an author on it. There had to be some email exchange, and it did took sometime. I agree that it is quite unorthodox. Mostly because it reflects on the editor as well.

Once, actually, I could not submit for some conference because he was the organizing chair of the session and the conference had strict rules against it.

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