I have a paper to be submitted and most of the journals in my field would like to have a "potential reviewer" list (3-4 potential reviewer) by the author. Of course, the last decision to send to paper to these reviewers is up to the editor.

I wonder if it is ethical to propose a researcher (who is expert of the topic of the paper) from your institution as a potential referee? Does it cause any conflict or unethical situation?

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  • What is your prior relationship with the potential referee? – Mad Jack Feb 1 '18 at 15:20
  • @MadJack I am a PhD student and he is not my advisor. Of course, I discussed about the paper with him – optimal control Feb 1 '18 at 15:29
  • Look at the answer. I just add that if you have no idea you should ask that friend or your supervisor. If you have friendly colleagues out of your institution go for some but not all of them. Say 2 among 3. The third one can be an author you respect from his her work, or that you have thoroughly cited, etc. – Alchimista Feb 8 '18 at 9:48

You shouldn't propose referees that have conflicts of interest. Any employee of your institute is conflicted. NSF adopt a similar stance for panelists: a panelist employed by the same institute as an applicant is conflicted. (Source: https://www.nsf.gov/attachments/108234/public/coi_1230P.doc.)

Conflicts may be real or perceived. For instance, an employee of your institute might be perceived as having a conflict, yet there might be no real conflict. Nonetheless, all conflicts should be avoided, because no one wants to be accused of malice.

That said, you are ultimately bound by the journal's definition of conflict and you should follow their guidance. Unfortunately, many journals are rather vague about conflicts, so you might need to establish your own position.

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  • 2
    +1 and I recommend against suggesting someone from the same institution. It immediately catches the eye and it's a red flag for the editor - it might not be fair, but the editor might subconsciously decide that you are trying to bias the peer review. If you must suggest someone from the same institution, use the "why are you suggesting this reviewer" box to elaborate on why the two of you don't have a conflict of interest. – Allure Feb 1 '18 at 23:24

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