When submitting papers as a student, I was asked to provide referee suggestions to the editor. The problem was that I didn't know anyone at the time in the field (I still don't, but I'm also not a practicing researcher anymore, so it's less relevant). I would either just write the names of authors I had just read papers from or leave that field blank. Was that a bad practice? Does it affect the editor's perception of the paper?

  • 2
    Do you usually hava a choice? I would think that at least in 9 out of 10 cases of papers I submitted, recommending something between 2 and 6 reviewers was mandatory. Jan 15 at 16:04
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    @Snijderfrey Interesting, I don't think I've done a submission where suggesting reviewers was mandatory Jan 15 at 17:32
  • @Snijderfrey you could always submit Prof. XXX and xxx@yyy.com email (i.e. non-existent reviewers).
    – Allure
    Jan 15 at 23:50
  • Didn't you have a supervisor / advisor who could have pointed out someone in the field?
    – Sabine
    Jan 16 at 9:02
  • @Allure Don't do this. If the field is marked mandatory, then it is mandatory. Clever hacks like this are a likely way to get desk rejected.
    – Max
    Jan 16 at 18:54

4 Answers 4


As an editor, the answer is no. Many authors fill in that part of the submission form with 'random' names; some times they fill in key/big names, who are unlikely to accept my review request unless they know me or the authors.

At the end of the day, there is only one critical criterion: paper quality.

The authors, their affiliations, and who they suggest as reviewers, do not come into play.


Every editor is different of course, but I doubt that such is a common factor. The purpose of asking is to ease their job in finding reviewers, not to make a judgement about the author.

The editor's job is to publish good work. Thus, their most important consideration should be, and usually is, the quality of the work itself. Associated with that is the need to improve works that have underlying value but have some flaws.

The only issue I see is that if it is difficult to find appropriate reviewers, the process might take longer or even, in unusual cases, fail altogether. But this is rare as the editor has a stable of reviewers that they depend on.

  • As you say, a good list of suggested reviewers might get your paper in the "deal with this now" pile instead of the "deal with this later" pile. Jan 16 at 20:35

The various publishers now have lists of referees by topics, and these automatically come up as suggested referees when the handling editor is at that point in the process. So: it doesn’t make much practical difference.

I should say that I always contact some referees outside the list suggested by the authors. In fact looking at the list of suggested referees will not always reflect positively on the authors.

On balance, it may or may not make a difference in individual cases, but I’m betting on average it makes no difference.


An Editor should not look down on a manuscript submitted without suggested reviewer.
With that said, there are many nuances at play.

  1. Some journal makes suggested reviewers mandatory. Failing to comply results in the manuscript not getting submitted successfully.
  2. For some journals, suggested reviewer is optional. While in others, it is not required.

Suggested reviewers list comes in handy for different purposes

  1. Some Editors use it to gauge an author's knowledge of the topic/field. Some might be fuzzy about it and do a desk reject. Often, it does not have a critical role in decision-making.
  2. Some Editors use it to ease their 'finding' of suitable reviewers. Editors are, however, not obliged to limit to the submitted suggested reviewers list or even utilise/engage any of the suggested ones.
  3. Some Editors, on the other hand, use the suggested reviewers list to extend the pool of their potential reviewers in the future.
  4. Editors are aware that some authors 'pack' the *suggested reviewers' list with their allies (or even intimate colleagues. Obviously, this is unethical. Although, in some disciplines, few though, the pool of reviewers is narrow due to the nature of the domain/discipline/sub-discipline.

By and large, the role/purpose of suggested reviewers list varies from journal to journal, from publisher to publisher.

[Was that a bad practice?]
I would either just write the names of authors I had just read papers from - This is fine. If done constructively, you'll get to understand the trend in the domain or sub-discipline better.

leave that field blank - I personally did not think this is a constructive approach: limited engagement with the topic or discipline. If there is an option, put down at least two: You need not put all 5 or 8 as may be requested. While at it, do not put colleagues or collaborators (especially on the same topic).
In-btw, leaving it blank, if required, might suggest a lack of supervisor/advisor! (if the author is a student).

Does it affect the editor's perception of the paper? - As indicated, it depends on the Editor. It depends on the goal of the journal. It depends on the sub-discipline.

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