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Some journals let authors to suggest who should handle their submission. How should one choose the suggested editors? In my particular case, I struggled with selection because

  • One of the possible choices was an editor who was one of my co-author's opponent when his dissertation was publicly examined
  • One editor was affiliated with the same institution as one of my co-authors
  • One editor had published with one of my co-authors
  • Two editors were well known by my co-authors (no shared projects)
  • Two editors I had never heard about

Our paper had about 10 authors from 6 different institutions. I selected an unknown editor because I felt there was some kind of potential conflict of interest (even if just perceived) in selecting someone else. However, I have been wondering whether I did the correct choice? My paper got eventually rejected but I got some nice feedback to improve the work. Therefore, I might face the same situation soon again, when I get to the point of resubmitting the paper to some other journal.

  • @Alexandros I edited the question. Yes, he was an examiner of the completed PhD thesis. – mmh May 21 '16 at 8:54
  • @Alexandros opponents are used in some countries. I think Denmark is one. – Anonymous Physicist May 21 '16 at 9:40
  • @AnonymousPhysicist Only in some fields. In others they are just called the examination committee. – Tobias Kildetoft May 21 '16 at 10:48
  • @alexandros en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctorate says that Denmark in Finland indeed have officially assigned opponents for the disputation. Another case of "academia varies more than you think". – Dirk May 21 '16 at 13:45
  • That is exactly the case. In Finland, there is an opponent that may ask any questions about the work. The candidate must be able to answer them. This is the case in every field as far as I know. – mmh May 21 '16 at 13:58
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You are correct, selecting an editor the authors have not met avoids perceived conflict of interest, which is a good thing. I think "editors were well known by my co-authors (no shared projects)" is also a good choice.

It's not always possible to eliminate all potential conflicts of interest. I would prioritize avoiding selecting an editor whom I had coauthored a paper with, since that is a very important form of professional relationship. Ultimately, assigning the manuscript to an appropriate editor should be the journal editor-in-chief's responsibility, not the author's.

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If you are not sure whom to suggest, just do not suggest anybody. You seem to have a good reason: it is complicated. The editor-in-charge is able to see your co-authorships with other editors and stuff like that, and then choose whatever he prefers. After all, unless it's a scam journal, its their ethics in these matters that are important, and not your perception of the correct ethics.

If you wish, you could explain your lack of choice of a communicating editor in the note to the editor, but equally, you can omit this.

  • 2
    Probably making a suggestion is enforced by the submission software. – Anonymous Physicist May 21 '16 at 23:47
  • Bit hard when journals such as IEEE ones require a minimum of 2 – beldaz Aug 28 '17 at 0:29
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My preference would be the "editors well known by my co-authors (no shared projects)"

The two editors I had never heard about could change my mind if I learned more about them

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There are some things to consider when choosing an editor:

  • The editor should not have a conflict of interests himself.

  • The editor should know who is qualified to review the paper. It's an advantage if he knows some of these people personally (because that makes it a lot easier to recruit them as reviewers), and it's also an advantage if he knows which of those people might have a conflict of interests.

  • And finally, the editor should have an idea what to do if the reviews are inconsistent.

As a consequence, one should not pick close friends, current collaborators, or researchers from the same department, but one should also avoid to choose somebody who is known to be overly critical of your research as a whole. On the other hand, it's usually a good idea to pick an editor who is at least remotely familiar with the topic. Which means that, if I have been working in this area for quite some time, the editor whose name I've never heard would not be my first choice.

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