Do reviewers/editors receive a deadline for reviewing a paper?

I wanted to know that whether reviewers/editors receive any kind of deadline for reviewing a manuscript for a journal or they are allowed to submit their reviews any time they wish since they are not paid for this service.

If they do receive a deadline what is the average time the reviewers get for evaluating the following in journals owned by Elsevier, Springer, World Scientic, Taylor & Francis etc.

  1. Round 1 revision or first review of a paper
  2. Major Revision
  3. Minor Revision

I find that if a major revision is required then the authors receive a time of 2 months for fixing it.

For a minor revision the authors get a time of 1 month.

What is the time given by the journal authorities to the Editors/Reviewers for checking a major revision and a minor revision?

Can someone please let me know as one of my manuscript is in major and other in minor revision?

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

  • 2
    This highly depends on the field and journal and cannot generally be answered. I have performed reviews on deadlines between two weeks and three months. I think your underlying question is answered by: Is my paper under review (or similar) for too long and if yes, how should I react? – Wrzlprmft Aug 8 '20 at 6:16
  • @Wrzlprmft; my field is mathematics, i wanted to know if the reviewers receive a deadline not about how I should react – Math_Freak Aug 8 '20 at 6:18
  • Then please edit your question to mention the field (also, whether you are in applied or pure mathematics) and remove any mention of how much, because we cannot answer that. As for the linked Q&A, mind that you may find answers to more than just the titular question. – Wrzlprmft Aug 8 '20 at 6:20
  • 1
    Do the reviewers get lower grades if they are slower than their colleagues? – Solar Mike Aug 8 '20 at 6:27
  • 3-4 weeks usually. When I am the author though it takes months for each round somehow. – dusa Aug 8 '20 at 17:31

Peer review is broken.

Do reviewers/editors receive a deadline for reviewing a paper?

Typically yes. But, many reviewers seemingly wait until they receive a reminder or the deadline is near, before starting their review, for various reasons: I have reviews to do, so I can't accept more. Ultimately, reviews have to be written, so why delay? That's not always possible, of course. Reviewers are busy people, they don't always have the time, everything is last minute, and many are simply overloaded.

Personally, I should avoid overloading myself for more than a month-or-so at a time, which means I can (usually) review within two months. If I can't commit to that, then I'll decline to review, because I can't deliver in what I consider a reasonable time (which is typically less than permitted). (Beyond two months, I try to avoid making commitments, where possible.) Sometimes editors come back to me and ask if I'll just get to it when I can, and I typically agree. Sometimes I accept with the proviso that I'll take far longer than normal.

Reviewing doesn't always get my best cycles, those are reserved for duties that I get more credit for. Since there are always lesser cycles, when I can't get the return I'm after for the aforementioned duties, that's when duties with less credit get done. Such duties can be numerous, so I don't always have the time for reviewing.

Peer review is broken: Better incentives are needed.

What is the time given by the journal authorities to the Editors/Reviewers for checking a major revision and a minor revision?

That'll vary between journals, but is somewhat irrelevant: Reviews are regularly submitted late. There's a website that provides averages, try searching for it, add a comment below when you find it. (I can't remember the name.)

Can someone please let me know as one of my manuscript is in major and other in minor revision?

No, every situation is different. Try looking up the aforementioned website for a rough guide.

  • Thank you very much for your answer+1 – Math_Freak Aug 8 '20 at 10:56
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    " I don't know what causes this mindset" Really? ", reviews have to be written, so why delay?" Because if I did the review now, rather than later, my postdoc would loose their job because they had no funding, or my student wouldn't make their thesis deadline because I hadn't reviewed their chapter, or the departments exams results would be later being published. Most academics only ever do things where the sky would fall in if they didn't do it right now. – Ian Sudbery Aug 8 '20 at 13:00
  • @IanSudbery You seem to have taken those sentences out of context, I also write: That's not always possible, of course. Regardless, some reviewers seem to have time management issues, which you seemingly hint at: Most academics only ever do things where the sky would fall in if they didn't do it right now. – user2768 Aug 8 '20 at 15:48
  • Sorry. I was in a bad mood and out of order. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I agree with out some (most?) reviewers have time management issues, but I believe that issue is not having enough time, rather than organizing it poorly. When there is more to do that time to do it, good time management it to prioritize. And reviewing is always going to be a lower priority than things that affect people in front of you - that is it will always have the lowest priority. – Ian Sudbery Aug 8 '20 at 21:28
  • @IanSudbery No problem, I've certainly done the same! You're right and I've edited my answer to bring in some more details. – user2768 Aug 9 '20 at 9:10

In general when journals contact potential reviewers, they do tend to give a time frame they expect those who accept to receive a review back in. The more enlightened ones also give a time limit to accept the review. As has been noted in the comments, the length of these windows varies by subject and by journal, with mathematics journals noted as being at the long end, and some disreputable science and engineering journals at the short end. In practice, these are soft targets, and editors tend to be happy if they get any response at all, even a late one. My experience is that these windows tend to be the same for initial and subsequent reviews, but I definitely won´t claim that is universal.

Note that for resubmissions there is a strong preference to reuse the original reviewers, since they are in the best position to check that their criticisms have been addressed. Having a strict deadline for review would be likely to slow the process further, since new reviewers would have to be found (and given a new block of time to respond in), who might easily raise points ignored under the original review.

One misapprehension in your question is in assuming that these targets are set by the publisher. In general it will be the senior editors making the decision based on the volume of submissions they have available, and the standard of impact they are aiming to maintain. The exceptions are at the predatory end of the market, and no reputable journal is going to publish an article unreviewed, just because all the reviewers were late responding. Modern editional systems have made life a bit easier by automating reminder emails, but these are often treated as spam messages by the recipient. Your principal solace is that many of these systems track review times and quality, and push editors to request reviews from fast, high quality reviewers.

As an author, your most useful data is average time from submission to publication, which many journals now advertise to win custom. Note that tis is a figure which can be manipulated however, by techniques such as forcing revisions to be treated as a new submission, or by giving up of articles which have sat for a long time.

  • Really a nice and insightful answer +1 – Math_Freak Aug 10 '20 at 12:24

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