I feel really bad asking for my co-authors, who are also my dissertation committee, to provide edits on my paper so quickly, but it looks like it needs to be done.

I submitted a paper to a journal a few months ago. They got back to me a month later with "major revisions" recommended. I got a lot of great comments, but they will take me some time to complete. The journal gave me only a month to get it done and send it back in. Due to the other things on my plate, this was extremely unrealistic. My primary advisor said it is impossible to do with everything I have going on. So, I asked the journal for an extension. I emailed them multiple times. They did not reply. The submission date came and went and I still didn't hear from them. As a result, I assumed I was not granted the extension.

However, I received FINALLY an email from them about a week and a half ago stating that I have been granted a new deadline of August 5th. Again, I still have A LOT on my plate and those revisions are not my top priority. However, I got a major portion of my thesis finished yesterday so now I have time to work on these revisions. My primary advisor is aware of this new deadline but wasn't sure if it was feasible. However, we had a meeting today where we discussed it. The game plan is to hand it into the journal a week late and hope they accept it (she said many journals are OK with this and won't have an issue). August 5th is still unreasonable. And my department and my advisor are very supportive of mental health and having a work-life balance so they would never want me to work overtime on this (my advisor even stated today that I should not kill myself over this as research is supposed to be fun and remember to take a lot of time during the week off). In my department, most students work from 9-5 or 8-4 since it's strongly encouraged that we have downtime and a life.

Anyways, now that we have a game plan moving forward, I need to let my other co-authors know what will be happening. I will need to ask them to review my edits to this paper over the course of a week. A two-week turnaround is standard in the department, but I will request only a week. My committee also has another paper of mine to review at the moment and there may be some overlap there, so this is a lot to ask and I feel guilty (even though it is not my fault) and bad about asking them to review something in such a short period of time. In addition, my secondary advisor is a lead researcher in the country for COVID-19, so she is extremely busy with that as well.

My question is: what should I say in the email to my co-authors / committee? I really do not want to sound like I am expecting them to review it in such a short time and that I do not value their time or understand they have a lot of other things on their plate?

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    I'm confused, what committee? Your dissertation committee? They're co-authors on a paper with you? – Azor Ahai -him- Jul 28 '20 at 16:09
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    I like your PI's attitude.. :) (but sometimes it's still good to hurt yourself for a deadline and take time off afterwards) – Mark Jul 28 '20 at 16:14
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    Given that the confirmation arrived late and the deadline is now really tight, you could also immediately ask for an extension by another two weeks. Sometimes people answer quicker once they started looking into a particular issue. – lighthouse keeper Jul 28 '20 at 16:29
  • @Azor Ahai yes, my thesis committee. They are co-authors on my paper (I am first author and they are subsequent authors). It's the standard in the department – aspire94 Jul 28 '20 at 17:01
  • Totally reasonable. Just the language of solely referring to them as "your committee" instead of "co-authors" was confusing on first glance (as well as "review" as in peer review). I made a few tweaks, feel free to edit if you didn't like them. – Azor Ahai -him- Jul 28 '20 at 17:30

It's much more important to send something right away, so that they have as much time as possible to look at it, rather than wasting precious hours finding just the right words.

  • State clearly and concisely what you are asking them to do, and when you need it done by

  • Explain briefly the reason for the short deadline

  • Apologize for the rush and acknowledge that they may be unable to do it in time

  • Have a backup plan in case they cannot meet the deadline. You can always ask the journal for another extension. Given the amount of effort they have already put into reviewing your paper, and the promise they evidently see in it, they have an incentive to work with you. The worst case is they say no, in which case you may need to withdraw your paper and submit to another venue later. That is annoying but not the end of the world.

  • 2
    I would add, it might be good to inform the co-authors already before OP sends them the revised paper, so they can schedule it in, rather than waiting until OP has his/her part completed – Mark Jul 28 '20 at 16:16

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