In The Computer Journal I was looking at the Instruction to authors page, I did not understand the below instruction-

Authors should supply a list of between three and five referees who would be suitable to referee the paper. Please enclose full name, email and full postal addresses.

I thought after paper submission, the editors will review it & recommend if there any changes are necessary. But according to above instruction it seems that author has to provide suitable referee list. Then editors will review submitted paper.

In this specific context, What does referee mean? How does it differ from editor? Also if an independent researcher needs to submit paper, where does he find more than 2 referees? Is referee equivalent to peer?

  • I don't know that this question is necessarily a duplicate, because the OP asked the difference between a referee and an editor, which wasn't covered in the linked question. May 23, 2017 at 15:52

3 Answers 3


The editor works for the journal and recommends changes to the article for clarity and organization. He or she also makes the final judgments regarding if and when an article is published. The editor does not evaluate the work technically in the same way that referees do. The referees are peer reviewers who are deeply familiar with your field of work and will evaluate your article for its scientific merit. To have your article published, it must be approved by both the editor and the referees.

For a further explanation of how to suggest referees, see the accepted answer to this question: What is a referee in the manuscript submission process?

  • 1
    To avoid confusing some first time authors, it might be useful making clear that "the editor works for" doesn't often mean "as a full time employee". She almost certainly an academic or researcher working in one of the core subject areas of the journal, just not necessarily in the precise technical area of the paper being submitted.
    – origimbo
    May 22, 2017 at 21:20

They clearly mean people to do peer reviewing.

It's a shame that they go out of their way to ask people to provide their own reviewers, since that is not exactly a way to get an unbiased set of reviews.

Groucho Marx once said he wouldn't belong to any club that would have him as a member. I wouldn't submit to any journal that can't find its own reviewers.

If they do this, be sure they are not a "predatory journal" whose primary purpose is to charge you fees for publishing your work.

  • 1
    The British Computer Society is the professional organization that represents and licenses IT professionals (equivalent to Chartered Engineer, and similar designations) in the UK, and Oxford University Press has been around for centuries, so the OP's journal is very unlikely to be predatory.
    – alephzero
    May 22, 2017 at 19:07
  • I didn't mean to impugn any specific publication, i meant it more generally. That being said, their open access fees are twice those of ACM/IEEE.... May 22, 2017 at 19:10
  • 2
    "It's a shame that they go out of their way to ask people to provide their own reviewers, since that is not exactly a way to get an unbiased set of reviews." - in my field it is very common for top journals to ask for a list of referees. There is no guarantee that the work is sent to those referees, the editor may choose zero, one, or all of the reviewers from that list, based on their judgment. In a diverse field with numerous areas of expertise, it isn't possible for any but the most specific journals to have editors that really know the best 10 people to review a given paper.
    – Bryan Krause
    May 22, 2017 at 20:00
  • @BryanKrause I just don't see the point. There are definitely cases of collusion -- for instance I came across a case where an author was clearly providing a reviewer the text for the "independent" peer review the reviewer was supposed to be writing. Why take the chance? Can't the editor look at cited articles to find candidates? May 22, 2017 at 20:05
  • Sometimes, sometimes not. How should the editor sort through the 100s of authors cited by a paper? Pick out the names they have heard of? Based on frequency? Couldn't the authors also be citing their friends? Editors can easily look through a short list of suggested referees to see that they have not published (or at least, not recently/extensively) with the authors, that they are from different institutions, etc. They can also cross-reference them with the journal's own list of past referees whom they were pleased with.
    – Bryan Krause
    May 22, 2017 at 20:14

The editor(s) are the people who are ultimately responsible for the journal and it's publications. However, often times they lack the requisite expertise to understand the nuances of papers that are submitted. The standard practice is to ask other researchers who have a similar expertise to the submitted paper to read and review the submission. These researchers are the referees. They are not affiliated with the journal, and are usually academic researchers. They will write reports on the paper that will give the editor a better grasp of the importance of the paper, and are often asked to explicitly recommend the paper for acceptance or denial.

The first thing I would do is look through the citations for potential referees. If your paper is a direct reply to another paper, uses or extends someone's technique, or refutes someone's ideas, definitely put them on the list. After putting anyone whose work is directly connected to yours, pick the remaining people from a list of people who have done similar work in the past. If you work in a field or topic where there is contention about interpretation or multiple schools of thought, you should probably pick people who roughly agree with you (this isn't an issue in my field, mathematics).

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