TLDR: How do I figure out who to ask to review an article (who isn't too busy)?

I was asked to submit an article for an upcoming thematic issue for a well-regarded, peer-reviewed journal in my field. Several months after the initial submission, the issue's editor mentioned that they've had issues with finding a peer-reviewer for my article. They asked a handful of people: some have disappeared, some are too busy. As such, they would like for me to suggest names. I don't have an issue identifying people in my field who can review my article. However, I don't know who to identify as someone who would have enough time, especially because it's summer. I know the top people in my field -- the superstars -- but not so much about others I could ask.

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    You just need to submit a list of names; you don't need to ask those people if they are willing or available. The editor will do that. If you try to ask them, you'll end up bothering a lot of people whom the editor was never going to invite anyway. Also, since the editor is often a well-connected researcher, potential reviewers may be more likely to respond positively to a request from the editor than from you, the author. Jul 13, 2019 at 6:41

2 Answers 2


You're not being asked to find reviewers who are willing to review your paper. You're only being asked to suggest reviewers. There is no guarantee that any of the reviewers you suggest will actually be the one(s) who review your paper.

Therefore you should not so much identify people who have time as you should identify people who can review your paper. If you're still concerned you could identify people other than the superstars, but suggesting superstars is fine, because the superstars probably know others who can review your paper (so they can suggest someone).


Just give the editor a long list. Don't try to predict who takes a summer holiday. It's absolutely not your job to know people's schedules. And definitely don't try to research that or contact potential reviewers.

Also, while it's fine that you assist with a list, it's really the editor/journal's job to get the paper reviewed. I would be a bit irked to have made a requested submission (they actually reached out to you) and then they can't even get the paper reviewed. Push comes to shove, just move the paper. Might not be summer or your topic being obscure, may just be a not very efficient journal/editor.

Furthermore, I find it strange the idea that the whole season of summer precludes reviewing. I bet PLENTY of papers get reviewed in the summer. Sure, people go for vacations, but in the US at least, tenured professors (and I would assume some US tenured R1 profs could be in your superstar list), don't usually take the whole season off. If anything, many professors I know have more time in the summer than in the academic year. In any case, even if there's less, the wheels still churn and lots of papers get reviewed. This editor also ought to feel some responsibility for all the non-summer time when the paper sat. But really, I think you are overthinking it with worrying about summer versus reviewing.

If the editor is doing his job, he will only leave the paper with people that say they can review it (if no response or a "no", move on down the list). Not just dump it into inboxes of 3 people who are spending the summer on an Alaskan field trip. But even this, I would feel is just the editor doing the editor's job. You shouldn't have to micromanage him. Just move the paper if you feel he's not being efficient.

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