I journal I recently submitted a paper to asked me to suggest two referees, which I did, with explanation of why I picked them as referees.

While I was writing the paper, I had informal email exchanges with both of them. I was wondering if it is unethical on my part to drop an email to each of them stating that I suggested their name to referee my paper? If it is, totally understandable, but if not, is it still unethical to send them a copy of my paper for which I suggested them as referees? I'm guessing yes, but double checking.

  • 5
    Tangentially related issue: maybe these two people deserve an acknowledgment at the end of your paper, if the 'informal email exchanges' involved technical matters. Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 12:33
  • @FedericoPoloni Good point, not the exchange wasn't directly relevant to the papers, so the communications weren't either. I'd have no problem acknowledging them if they contributed somehow. Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 12:34
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    Even abstracting from any ethical considerations, I fail to see what the purpose of such an email would be. What exactly do you imagine that they are going to do with the information that you nominated them as a potential referee, other than shrug their shoulders and get on with their day? Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 17:05
  • Possible duplicate of: Before proposing reviewers, should I notify them?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 23:00

1 Answer 1


You should note that the fact that you "nominated" two referees doesn't necessarily imply that they will be chosen by the editor to referee your paper. In fact, if the editor gets the idea that you have a cozy little conspiracy to give your paper favorable treatment, then they would be unlikely to be chosen. There are reasons for "blind" and "double blind" reviewing systems.

I doubt that it is unethical to either let them know or to send your paper, given that they may not be reviewers after all, but there is a bit of an "ick factor" in it, with people wondering about your motives. Bad motives changes the ethical calculation.

I'd suggest you keep it clean and not do either. I won't condemn it outright as you already have some professional relationship to them. But I'd also suggest examining your motives here. Trying to game the system does have ethical implications.

It might be that the people you recommended will want to either refuse or to inform the editor of any "out of band" communications. That might reflect badly on yourself.

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    okay thank you. I guess then I'll just be totally silent and not communicate with any of them. After all, I don't want to game the system. Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 12:33
  • 1
    @ScienceMan: totally silent about your paper…and even that really means don’t initiate.
    – jmoreno
    Commented Jul 30, 2022 at 14:06

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