December 1st marked our first six months as co-editors of AJPS. We want to thank our associate editors, board members, authors, and reviewers for a very smooth transition. Now that we have some experience under our belts, we thought we’d offer some thoughts about several topics that might be helpful to reviewers and authors alike. So, on the occasional Tuesday, we’ll post a short entry about some aspect of the journal submission, review, or publication process that we’ve had to address over the course of the last six months. While these issues are probably relevant to most journals, we only speak for ourselves and our expectations for AJPS.

Proposing and Opposing Reviewers

AJPS, like many other journals, gives authors an opportunity to suggest appropriate reviewers as well as identify scholars authors might like us to avoid. Throughout the course of the last few months, it’s become clear that a few dos and don’ts might be helpful as complete the proposing and opposing reviewers boxes in Editorial Manager.

Here are three tips when proposing reviewers:

  • Avoid common conflicts of interest – your department colleagues, recent co-authors, member of your dissertation committee, etc. are not appropriate reviewers. In fact, screening for those people is part of our technical check process.
  • Please don’t recommend people who have previously read and commented on the manuscript, whether as a conference discussant or as a more informal collegial favor. Whenever possible, we prefer people to come to a manuscript with a fresh set of eyes.
  • Identify subfield experts, experts in your particular methodology, or younger scholars who might not yet be a part of our reviewer database.

Opposing reviewers is a bit trickier. Without suggesting that academics can engage in petty personal squabbles or have territorial interests around subject areas, we understand that conflicts between scholars can color a reviewer’s assessment. If you believe that a likely reviewer is not well-suited to assess the manuscript objectively – perhaps you’ve had personal disputes, maybe the person was unprofessional at a conference on a panel, we could go on – then please provide a brief statement as to why we should avoid this scholar. Simply noting that the person comes at your question from a different perspective is insufficient. Indeed, these are the very people who should be reading and evaluating your work.

As editors, we take these suggestions into account, although we do not guarantee that we will follow any of the suggestions.  But providing us with specific reasons for whom you propose and whom you’d like us to avoid will help us best evaluate the request.