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I have a paper submitted in an Elsevier journal. The review process has been quite long. I submitted the paper on the 20th of December 2017. After 7 months, I have received first-round reviews. It was a major revision. Then, I submitted the revised version of the manuscript. The reviewers took 2 months to say that everything is more or less ok and they asked for some minor revisions. The editor changed the status of the paper: Accept, after minor revision.

I submitted very quickly the manuscript and it has been 5 months that I did not receive any news. I contacted the editor at the beginning of the third month, he said he reminded reviewers to send their reviews but any news. I am a bit concerned. Did they really forget the paper?

  • 2
    To answer the title question: Work on your next paper! – JeffE Mar 13 at 19:45
  • That's what I started to do! But still, my past follows me :) – optimal control Mar 13 at 20:00
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Some journals are just really slow and dozy in their processes, and the weeks can add up to months quite quickly. For example, I recently had a paper accepted after three rounds of review that stretched over two whole years.

Consider for example, a process like this:

  • The paper comes to the editor and they take a week to assign reviewers.
  • The reviewers take a few weeks to respond, and then some say no (it can happen even in a second round) and the editor has to get more.
  • Once reviewers have accepted, the journal gives them 8 weeks to return reviews (on the longer side, but not uncommon).
  • A reviewer is late returning their review, and the editor doesn't bug them for a week or two.
  • Then reviewer says they've had a very busy time and can they have a couple more weeks to review, for which the editor says yes, since otherwise they'd have to start the clock all over with a new reviewer.
  • When the final reviews come in, the editor doesn't look at it for a week, then sends a recommendation to the editor-in-chief, who also sits on it for a week.

That's more than 20 weeks "in review" right there, and it can easily stretch to more if you mix in some holidays or lost emails. You got your reviews eventually the first time and you'll likely get them soon this time as well---it seems like it's just a slow journal, as some are.

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The first long period may be due to the "major revisions" part. The latest may be just scheduling or something more, with inconsistent feedback from (possibly new) reviewers. But if it has been about two-three months since you have heard anything, you could ask for an update.

I'm pretty sure they haven't lost your paper or forgotten it. I think that is rare enough to be dismissed.

But asking should be fine.

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