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And no, it is not ok as it works. One year to review a 10 pages paper is not ok. The process is just not working and authors should have legal rights against editors/journals.

I submitted a paper to a reputable journal and after 4 months and after 2 unanswered e-mails, a secretary responded and told me that the editor has not found available reviewers yet and I should wait. First, I do not buy it. Second, let's say that I buy it: can't you tell me at the time of submission that "hey, look, we have no people available, it will take 4 months to find someone, are you ok?" Is that too difficult? Can't you hire a person to do it? You are a (tr-?)billion dollar industry!

I submitted my work - intellectual property - to these people in good faith, I acknowledge that this has to take time, but "searching for referees" 4 months is simply unacceptable. I, as an author, should have legal rights against them. Literally, they are withholding my property (I have no right to resubmit elsewhere etc.) but there is no law protecting me.

I would like to ask: are there other people like me who believe that enough with these ridiculous 1-2 year periods to get a response on a 10 page paper and that editors/journals should be legally bounded to do their work correctly (as we authors are legally bounded to freeze our work on this paper during the submission process?) There are pages long about "Ethical responsibilities for authors" in the journal pages, but what are "editors' ethical responsibilities?"

closed as unclear what you're asking by cag51, Solar Mike, henning, corey979, Dmitry Savostyanov Nov 17 '18 at 8:24

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    Sounds more like a rant than a question...Second, I highly doubt that at the time of the submission the editors knew how long it will take to find reviewers, as far as I know the editor asks some reviewers, if they say no they ask other people and so on. And, with the explosion in submissions over the last few years, especially in small fields, finding reviewers can be a pain... – Nick S Nov 17 '18 at 4:34
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    I think you are missing the point: we didn't have an explosion in the number of reviewers. With journals (and especially top journals) receiving much more submissions as before, and having probably similar pool of reviewers, it is normal that review time is longer, and that is is much harder to find reviewers (especially if the first choice says no).. Actually, if you go a bit deeper, the explosion in the number of papers is a direct result of the "publish or perish" system, which had another side effect: people have less time to review... – Nick S Nov 17 '18 at 5:29
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    Yes, the process is not perfect, and I had papers in the loop for (much) more than 1 year, I was not too happy about it... But unless mathematicians are willing to spend more time on reviews, and maybe take control of the journals, things are only going to get worse.... – Nick S Nov 17 '18 at 5:31
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    Also: ask yourself one question: are you really unhappy because finding reviewers took soo long, because the review took over 1 year, or because (and I am just taking a guess based on the tone of your answer) your paper got rejected? – Nick S Nov 17 '18 at 5:34
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    Concerning legal rights and resubmission: You do have the right (legally and morally) to withdraw your paper from the journal that you believe has mishandled it and then to submit the paper elsewhere. – Andreas Blass Nov 17 '18 at 17:06
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You answered your own question:

there is no law protecting me.

Therefore, your "legal rights against editors" are zero, at least in regards to the conduct you describe.

I would like to ask: are there other people like me who believe that enough with these ridiculous 1-2 year periods to get a response on a 10 year paper and that editors/journals should be legally bounded to do their work correctly (as we authors are legally bounded to freeze our work on this paper during the submission process?)

Are authors really "legally bound" not to dual-submit? I thought it was just a convention, enforced by rejecting your dual-submitted papers and possibly black-listing you from submitting again.

Anyway, of course many people feel that publishing is inefficient -- both in terms of the time-to-decision and access-to-information -- but I'm not aware of any real alternatives at the moment. Passing a law to make editing go faster is a thorny issue, and likely off-topic here.

  • No, authors are not legally bound not to dual submit. – Pete L. Clark Nov 17 '18 at 5:35

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