Selection of Reviewers
6.1.4 Selection of Reviewers
The selection of peer reviewers and the number of reviewers for a particular submission are matters of editorial judgment. Peer reviewers are usually experts who are not part of the journal staff. However, editorial staff members may serve as peer reviewers in areas of their expertise. Reviewers may be members of the journal’s editorial board, or a peer review panel, or they may have no other association with the journal. The editor’s knowledge of experts in a particular field often determines reviewer selection. Many journals maintain a database of reviewers indexed by areas of expertise and including information on review quality and turnaround time. A paper’s reference list can be useful in indicating contributors to the literature on the same topic. A literature search by the editor can also be helpful in identifying potential reviewers.
Authors sometimes suggest names of possible reviewers and also may indicate persons they believe should not review their paper, usually because of perceived bias. Editors should consider such information, but the selection of reviewers belongs to the editor, who must use judgment in distinguishing a reviewer’s valid praise or criticism from unwarranted bias for or against a particular submission. In an observational study at 10 biomedical journals,15 reviewers suggested by authors did not differ in the quality of their reviews compared with reviewers selected by editors, but author-suggested reviewers tended to make more favorable recommendations for publication. Reviewers should disclose to the editor any conflicts of interest they may have regarding a topic or an author (see 5.5.6, Ethical and Legal Considerations, Conflicts of Interest, Requirements for Peer Reviewers).