Peer Review Best Practices Part IV: Allowing authors to suggest potential reviewers

By Gabriella Massari, Peer Review Editorial Assistant, SAGE US

peer_reviewFinding reviewers to review a manuscript that has been submitted to a journal is often a challenging task. Many reviewers refuse because of busy schedules or because they are already in the process of reviewing another manuscript and many do not respond to the invitation at all.  When this occurs, the timeliness of the peer review process can be impeded greatly.

In an effort to avoid the prolonged process of finding and securing appropriate peer reviewers and expedite the peer review process overall, many journal editors allow authors to provide a list of preferred and non-preferred reviewers when submitting their manuscripts. Preferred reviewers are those who the author feels would provide an effective review of their manuscript while non-preferred reviewers are those who the author does not feel would be an appropriate choice. Because securing reviewers on a manuscript is the initial step for the entire process, allowing authors to provide a potential list of reviewers at submission has proved to be a beneficial practice for many journal editors.

When authors supply preferred and non-preferred reviewers, editors have the option to use this list for guidance and proceed with assigning reviewers for a manuscript as they see fit.  For example, if an editor is struggling to secure reviewers for a manuscript or has sent out numerous invitations with no success, they can invite one of the author’s preferred reviewers if necessary.   Alternatively, an editor can make sure not to invite those who are designated as non-preferred on the author’s list. It is important to remember, however, that editors are not required to use the lists if they do not feel it is appropriate.  The list is merely to guide editors when assigning reviewers to manuscripts.

*Important Tip*: There are some ethical issues that must be considered when allowing authors to provide this list of potential reviewers.  Although a rare possibility, authors may suggest an inauthentic reviewer or a colleague in an effort to secure positive reviews of their manuscript.  When considering preferred reviewers, it is highly recommended that the editor always do an independent, external search of the reviewer. An editor’s diligence in this matter will safeguard against these unethical situations and the SAGE editorial team is always available to talk through this important part of the process.

Although there are possible ethical concerns that may arise when allowing authors to suggest this potential list of reviewers, when done carefully, it may prove to be an essential tool for editors when faced with untimely peer review processes.  Our editorial team here at SAGE is more than happy to assist the journal editor as they search for reviewers. Feel free to contact the Editorial Assistant from SAGE that corresponds to your journal if you need further assistance.

For more on peer review best practice topics, check out previous posts here:

5 Tips for Getting your Article through Peer Review Quickly and Successfully

Peer Review Best Practices Part I: Inviting Reviewers

Peer Review Best Practices Part II: Reject without External Review

Peer Review Best Practice Part III: Selecting and Utilizing the Editorial Board

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