In many journals, authors who have never published anything before are required to have two or more "referees" in order for the paper to be reviewed. Who are these referees, and how can one "find suitable ones"?

Also, how does one go about finding referees when one is not in academia (i.e. doing research as a hobby rather than a profession)?

  • 6
    Can you please clarify what field you are talking about? In my fields, pretty much no reputable journal requires you to supply referees---and in fact, author-suggested referees are often considered less reliable than ones independently identified by the journal.
    – jakebeal
    Jun 6, 2017 at 11:57
  • 1
    Usually you can simply suggest authors of the most important recent references cited in your manuscript as referees. That might not be terribly useful to the editor but is the best way to fulfill this requirement if you don't know anyone in your field. However, I suggest to ask your adviser for suggestions. Helping you with this is their job.
    – user9482
    Jun 6, 2017 at 12:05
  • An example is The Journal of Integer Sequences: cs.uwaterloo.ca/journals/JIS
    – Klangen
    Jun 6, 2017 at 12:07
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    @Pickle The statement on the journal you linked is: "Authors may want to suggest two or three names of possible referees." In other words, you don't have to: the journal is quite willing and able to find what it thinks are appropriate reviewers for the paper.
    – jakebeal
    Jun 6, 2017 at 12:15
  • 3
    You naming several referees does not 'help towards the publication' - it merely gives a hint to the editor of who you think might be good, and what area you think the paper is in. If those names publish in, and are referees for, the journal, the editor has a better idea of what group of potential referees to dig some names out of.
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 6, 2017 at 13:17

2 Answers 2


From my experience, most journals do not require you to propose referees. It's more like the journal allows you to propose some names of potential referees. The referees are appointed by the editor and you as author will not know their names.

So the answer to "How does one go about finding referees when one is not in academia?" is

You don't have to.

Just find a suitable journal that does not require that you suggest referees.

If the journal management system does not allow you to submit your paper without suggesting referees, either suggest authors that you cite or authors that cite the same papers you cite (using, e.g., Google scholar).

  • 1
    I've submitted to journals where the submission system required recommendation of referees. Your last sentence is wrong.
    – user9482
    Jun 7, 2017 at 13:56
  • 1
    @Roland Not if you choose the right journals :-).
    – Dirk
    Jun 7, 2017 at 13:59
  • Whether I need to suggest reviewers is usually not my most important concern when selecting a journal. I know (of) enough scientists in my research area.
    – user9482
    Jun 7, 2017 at 14:08
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    @Roland I updated the answer in view of your comment.
    – Dirk
    Jun 7, 2017 at 15:40
  • 1
    I think it depends on the field (and potentially its breadth?). My field (geography) is very broad, and though I haven't submitted many articles, my understanding is that it is very common (often required) to suggest referees.
    – haff
    Jun 7, 2017 at 16:35

Typically look at the highest ranking people which you cited.

  • Highest ranking: since the journal will like that they dont need your citations

  • People which you cited: most likely they cas easier get into the topic, since they may know the foundations.

  • What if the highest ranking people cited have retired/died/no longer active? What if none of the citees are available?
    – Klangen
    Jun 6, 2017 at 13:35
  • 1
    Ok. That is a problem - then look who cited these people the most.
    – Sascha
    Jun 6, 2017 at 13:37

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