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Suppose I submitted a manuscript to Journal A which allows me to provide a listing of preferred reviewers. Further, suppose that Journal A rejected my manuscript based on feedback from two reviewers (I do not know if these two reviewers were on my "preferred" list).

Now, I want to submit my manuscript to Journal B, and I do not anticipate making any major changes to the manuscript (I will address all the comments made by the Journal A reviewers, but I will not change the paper by more than 10%).

My questions:

Should I suggest completely different preferred reviewers? Will suggesting the same reviewers again decrease the chances of having the article accepted?

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    It feels like you're thinking out loud and looking for some validation. Feel free to edit your question, though, to bring into better focus something that you'd like someone to provide some information about. – aparente001 Aug 8 '15 at 3:06
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    Presumably you picked the suggested reviewers because they are experts in the field. That hasn't changed... and resubmitting the same paper elsewhere, without addressing the points raised by the reviewers, is just shopping around for somebody to publish you. – vonbrand Aug 8 '15 at 19:07
  • @vonbrand I will address all the comments made by the reviewers but I will not change the paper by more than 10%. – Herman Toothrot Aug 8 '15 at 22:07
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    What did the reviewers say about your paper? If they said it was good but not appropriate for Journal A, then there is no reason to try to avoid having the same reviewers. – Kimball Aug 9 '15 at 12:47
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Unpacking your question a bit, I think that the key issue that you are worrying about is whether one or two of your preferred reviewers a) got your paper rejected, and b) might do it the second time around.

Now, if you were not going to substantively improve your paper, just submit again and hope the randomness comes up in your favor, I think that would be a serious worry. There are other questions on this site where people talk about the frustration of getting the same crappy paper twice, and you really don't want to be that crappy paper.

If you're addressing all of the key issues that caused the first decision, however, then I think that you are unlikely to need to worry. Let's break this down by the different cases that could occur:

  • At least one the journals might use none of your preferred reviewers: This sometimes happens, for a number of different reasons (e.g., the journal has particularly strict COI rules, or none of them might be available). In this case, your concern is moot.
  • The journals select different preferred reviewers: Journals generally want most of your reviewers to be non-preferred, to reduce the impact of bias and groupthink, so if you supplied several names, there's a good chance that the journals will pick differently from them, and again, your concern is moot.
  • Your preferred reviewers like the paper: Presumably you chose your preferred reviewers because they are likely to view the problem in a similar way to yourself, and so if you got some good reviews and some bad reviews, there's a good chance that your preferred reviewers gave a good review once, and will do so again.
  • Your preferred reviewers rejected you the first time, but find your improved manuscript much better: If you successfully addressed reviewer criticisms, then getting the same reviewer is likely to help you. This is because every reviewer is likely to have a different perspective, which may lead to focusing on a different set of concerns and issues. Thus, you may actually do better being reviewed by somebody who previously rejected your paper, but whose issues you have addressed, than by an new person who may reject the paper for their own entirely unrelated reasons.
  • Your preferred reviewers still hate the paper: Maybe they are prejudiced, maybe their issues simply cannot be reasonable addressed, or (more likely) you just didn't do as good a job as you thought in addressing their issues. This is the only real failure case amongst the scenarios.

On balance, then, I would recommend first thinking carefully whether any of your preferred reviewers might actually have a previously unexpected reason to be prejudiced against your paper. If so, exclude that person from the set. Otherwise, just pick the best preferred reviewers, and if they're the same as before, they're the same as before: most likely the concern is moot in any case, and if you've actually done real solid improvements in the paper that address the former issues, then even if you get one of the same reviewers again, it seems to me that it will be more likely to help than to hurt your paper's chances.

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