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I'm in the process of preparing a manuscript submission for consideration with a particular journal.

The article is an adaption of a portion of one of my thesis chapters. My thesis has not been formerly published in any manner in accordance with my country's copyright/publication practices with doctoral theses. While I've rewritten the majority of this article to fit the theme of the journal and become 'self-contained,' the hard data and some of the analysis is the same.

For this particular article and journal, a former thesis examiner of mine would be an ideal reviewer to list on the cover letter as having specialised expertise in the topic area. It is quite a 'niched' but also interdisciplinary topic which makes it difficult to locate potential reviewers, and this particular reviewer covers all of the interdisciplinary topics with their expertise. They have also written previous articles on this topic for this same journal, and I do draw on their work heavily throughout, so an editor might think to send this out to them regardless of whether I put their name down, or might think I don't know who the experts are in the field if I don't put their name down and this could hinder my chances.

My question(s) (knowing that editors don't always go with recommended reviewers):

1. Can I/Should I still list this person as a potential reviewer even though they have previously examined something very similar in my thesis? They will undoubtedly know that it is my work they are reviewing which means it will not be a blind review.

2. Should I list them as not reviewing my work, not because they are not capable, but because they examined something similar in my thesis and it will therefore not be a blind review?

3. Should I not list them and hope for the best?

4. If 2 is preferable, what would be the appropriate way to state this? Would something like the below be appropriate:

Blockquote *I acknowledge that ________would be an ideal reviewer, having an expertise in the intersectionality and main focus of this piece. However,________was one of my doctoral thesis examiners (of which this piece is adapted from) and would recognise the data and some of the analysis as being my work.

Any help or input would be appreciated!

  • So this is a double-blind journal? What are the rules with respect to that? – Sasho Nikolov Feb 20 '15 at 1:43
  • @SashoNikolov yes a double-blind journal. It doesn't list any rules regarding listing referees. – awsoci Feb 20 '15 at 1:49
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    I would just shoot an email to the area editor to ask what to do. – Sasho Nikolov Feb 20 '15 at 3:27
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Is seems to me that what you are caught on is one of the key tensions in reviewing:

  • The more knowledgeable the reviewer, the more likely they are to have some sort of conflict of interest regarding a manuscript.
  • The more independent a reviewer, the less qualified they are likely to be for a deep review of a manuscript.

Different journals and different editors have different places where they draw the line on the range of acceptable tradeoffs between knowledge and conflict of interest.

As such, I would recommend simply providing the information to the editor in your list of recommended referees, along the lines of what you have suggested but with less assumptions regarding the appropriate course of action:

X would be a good reviewer, but was one of the reviewers of my thesis.

The editor will then be able to make the call as best they judge (which they will do in any case), and will not be likely to feel that you are pushing them to either use or not use the person as a reviewer.

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