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I'm submitting to a journal and they require me to suggest several reviewers. Do they mean that I should select from among members of the editorial board, or do they mean that I should recommend from among all experts in the field? It doesn't say anywhere.

I'm thinking they must mean to select among members of the editorial board, because I assume they're not going to bother some random member of the community who has no connection with the journal and ask him/her to work for them. So, I'm guessing they must want me to select from among members of the editorial board.

On the other hand, selecting from among members of the editorial board is a miserable process. Other stuff I've read on the web suggests I need to make sure the people I'm suggesting have some connection to the subject of my manuscript. However, I find it hard to tell what each board member's interests and expertise is. Often it's hard to find their web page (e.g., because I only have their last name and initial of their first name); many of them don't have web pages; and even if they don't have a web page, it might not be updated or might not be in English. If they really mean I should select from among members of the editorial board, this sounds like a really bad system, which makes me doubt my guess.

So, which is it? Who do they want me to select from?


Yes, I've seen this thread, but I don't really think it answers the question (at least the ones I have) well.

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    You can suggest anyone. Typical reviewers are members of the community not editors. – Bill Barth Jun 8 '15 at 21:46
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    Your not recognizing anyone on the board is a bad sign. Make sure it's not a predatory journal. Ask your adviser to be on the safe side. – RoboKaren Jun 8 '15 at 21:47
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    @RoboKaren, I don't think that's true. The field is massive and this journal is fairly general. It turns out in this instance that everyone except 1 are from another country. Maybe a much more senior scientist could recognize a few, but I wouldn't expect much more than that even. – YungHummmma Jun 8 '15 at 21:53
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    "I assume they're not going to bother some guy who they have no connection to and ask him to work for them": That is exactly what they are going to do. This is normal. – Nate Eldredge Jun 8 '15 at 21:53
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    @YungHummmma The editorial board members being in different countries is completely normal. Academia doesn't follow national boundaries like that. Even though the journal is general, I'm still worried that you've not heard of the vast majority of the editorial board: either that means they're minor people or that you don't know the major people in your area. I'd expect you'd get to learn those names by reading papers by them and/or papers that cite them. – David Richerby Jun 8 '15 at 22:45
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No, the editorial board serves a different purpose from the reviewers. Typically, your paper will be assigned to one member of the editorial board, who will be responsible for managing the review process, and making a decision based on the reviewers' recommendations. However, the reviewers may be anyone with sufficient knowledge to understand and assess your paper.

So, feel free to list reviewers from the wide world! Note that there is typically no obligation for the editor to use the names you suggest; often they will make their own selection, based on their knowledge of the field.

  • Thank you, that makes my life much easier. I was going insane here. – YungHummmma Jun 8 '15 at 21:50
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As a minor extension to avid's answer, I'll point out that depending on the specific subject area of your manuscript, it may occasionally happen that a person among the editorial board may find himself/herself to be in a position to be able to examine the manuscript. This, while being a tiny subset among all possibilities, is generally a happy situation from the point of view of saving manuscript review time.

  • Of course, the caveat in my second sentence is - it is happy only when the decision is favorable! – 299792458 Jun 9 '15 at 8:31

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