Should Authors be Requested to Suggest Peer Reviewers?
As part of a continuous process to explore the factors that might weaken or corrupt traditional peer review, in this paper, we query the ethics, fairness and validity of the request, by editors, of authors to suggest peer reviewers during the submission process. One of the reasons for the current crisis in science pertains to a loss in trust as a result of a flawed peer review which is by nature biased unless it is open peer review. As we indicate, the fact that some editors and journals rely on authors’ suggestions in terms of who should peer review their paper already instills a potential way to abuse the trust of the submission and publishing system. An author-suggested peer reviewer choice might also tempt authors to seek reviewers who might be more receptive or sympathetic to the authors’ message or results, and thus favor the outcome of that paper. Authors should thus not be placed in such a potentially ethically compromising situation, especially as a mandatory condition for submission. However, the fact that they do not have an opt-out choice during the submission process—especially when using an online submission system that makes such a suggestion compulsory—may constitute a violation of authors’ rights.