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I have a mathematics paper ready for publishing, but I can't decide to which journal should I publish it.

The main thing based on which I want to publish the paper to a specific journal is its short period of peer-review process (because I need to publish it as soon as possible).

Suppose I have a list of journals I want to publish the paper. How should I know the average period of peer-review process for each of them?

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n.b. I think this answer is more relevant outside of mathematics, which is the OP's field ...

Although @Thomas's answer is correct that most journals to which you could submit your paper will be sharing the same reviewer pool, there can be big differences between journals in how efficiently their editorial processes run and, importantly, how much they pressure authors to return reviews quickly.

  • You can look on a journal's web page to see if they give any metrics, or emphasize speed: for example, Nature Communications says in their Aims and Scope section:

We are committed to providing an efficient service for both authors and readers. Our team of independent editors make rapid and fair publication decisions.

Obviously that doesn't give you anything hard and fast, but it does at least tell you that they prioritize speed.

  • As I've mentioned in a previous question about rapid peer review, SciRev is a web site that is attempting to gather and collate journal-specific information about the peer review process, including processing times. (Unfortunately it hasn't reached a tipping point of popularity yet, so it may not actually provide much useful information.)
  • someone has done an analysis of publication delays based on data from PubMed (Zenodo repository here). The linked blog post has a dynamic graphic window that lets you select specific journals, but some caveats:

    • the data are a bit out of date by now (up to 2015)
    • PubMed has good coverage only for biomedical and related journals
    • not all journals post the necessary metadata (submission and acceptance dates)
    • resetting due to "reject and resubmit" can skew the values

The other point I made in my previous answer about rapid peer review is that depending on your situation, it might not be as important as you think to have your paper published; in many cases, submission to a reputable journal counts for almost as much as publication - it indicates to potential admissions committees, employers, etc. that your work is actually ready for prime time (as opposed to "in prep", which can mean anything from "I've got a good idea" to "submitting tomorrow"). Depending on journal policies etc. within your field, you could also consider posting your paper to a pre-print service such as ArXiv - another way of convincing people that your work is for real.

The best way to figure out the true importance of rapid publication for your situation is probably to talk to a senior colleague in your field who knows your situation.

  • 3
    I wish SciRev to succeed. It will incredibly change the way we publish. And the behavior of some editors and journals. – seteropere Aug 23 at 11:49
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For publishing in mathematics you could check out the AMS' Backlog of Mathematics Research Journals. Among other things it provides a current estimate of waiting time between submission and publication and historical data for the time between submission and final acceptance.

I'd personally take these estimates with a grain of salt, but I suppose if you're desperate it's better than nothing.

  • Yes, I'm interested for mathematical journals. This is a very useful list for me. I appreciate it. But still other lists of this nature are welcomed, since there are a lot of journals that may not be included in this list. – Emin Aug 22 at 18:22
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    One should distinguish between publication and a publication decision. A long publication backlog may not necessarily imply a long average peer review time. It could be that papers get accepted quickly but editors have been accepting more of them than the journal can accommodate immediately, creating a backlog. – Dan Romik Aug 22 at 23:12
  • @DanRomik - Good point. It's probably the Submission to Final Acceptance column that's most relevant to the question. – Ben Linowitz Aug 22 at 23:24
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This is more of a comment, but it needs to be said:

The length of the peer review process depends on the reviewers. If the reviewers are slow, there is little the journal can do about it beyond some reminder emails.

Ultimately, all the journals will be asking the same set of people to review your paper. So don't expect that one journal will really be much faster than another.

Conferences can present a faster publication route because they have a schedule to keep. However, reviewing speed often comes at the cost of quality.

  • 2
    "If the reviewers are slow, there is little the journal can do about it beyond some reminder emails." I'm going to disagree with this one. You can replace reviewers or more firmly remind them. In this manner, the editors have a huge impact on how quickly something gets published. In my field (stats), JSS and the R Journal are very similar journals (except that JSS has higher reputation), yet R Journal papers usually get published in months, while JSS in years. I'm pretty sure this because the editors of JSS are overwhelmed, not the reviewers. – Cliff AB Aug 23 at 15:29
  • +1 to this. For some submissions the pool of capable reviewers is very scarce, indeed. Having been the culprit of a delay in both roles (as the editor, luckily in the past only, and as a reviewer) I would like to add that the timing of the submission may also play a role. If both the editor and the reviewers are inconvenienced by their actual work duties, there is not much you can do. Keep in mind that both editing and reviewing are voluntary tasks and take a back seat if something urgent comes up. – Jyrki Lahtonen Aug 25 at 17:37
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Many papers in many journal have submission dates and acceptance dates right at the top of the article pdf. In the example depicted, this info is right below the author info. The publication dats at the top.

From Journal physiol.

This won't give you an average, but a fairly quick sampling of your target journals should provide you with "typical" information. As an aside, you're probably most interested in the acceptance dates, the point at which you can list a paper as "In Press" on your CV.

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Unless the journal makes the data public, there's no way to tell. That's because the information needed isn't publicly available.

The speed of the peer review process depends on a few things:

  • How efficient the editors are. For example if you submit today, do they also invite reviewers today? (That would be really fast.)
  • How quick the peer reviewers are. If I invite reviewers today, when can I expect a review? This usually isn't within the ability of the editors to control unfortunately. Editors can prod reviewers, but cannot force them, and this is therefore a big question mark.
  • How quick the authors are at revising. Again this is going to depend on the authors. If they're busy they might delay resubmission; alternatively if the revisions requested are major they might also need time. Either way this is another big question mark.

When you say you want to know the average period of the "peer review process", it's not clear what you're actually looking for.

  • If you want to know the average period when it's the editor's turn to act (e.g. between submission to first invitation of reviewers, between reviews complete to decision) then you really have to ask the editors since they're the only one who'll know. You cannot tell this time from the outside; the information needed isn't publicly available.
  • If you want to know the average period between submission and decision, then you could in principle do it by looking at the previous 1,000 papers published in the journal and checking the given submission & accepted date (or published date if available). However the number you get necessarily involve the two big unknowns above (time taken by reviewers & authors). The numbers are unreliable as a result. You have big confounding variables that's going to affect all journals, not just the one you're trying to measure.

In any case the variance in the peer review times is very large. If the average is 30 days, you could still easily get a decision after 90 days.

Honestly, I would not worry about this because it's just not something you can get good data on, and it's not clear how the data is going to help you anyway. It's like attempting to predict whether a coin flip is going to end up heads or tails, and someone offers to tell you what the results of the previous 100 trials were: sure you can get the data, but it's not helpful in predicting what the next trial's results are going to be.

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I may be completely wrong but I think, based upon the nature of our research topic, we first should select the appropriate right fit journal and then should start the research paper writing process. This will help our ideas, writing process, references , writing style , level of detail s we need to integrate etc aligned well ahead of the time.

protected by Wrzlprmft Aug 25 at 7:57

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