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What is considered a standard time for asking a status update from the editor for various stages of peer-review?

I have heard that editors get irritated for asking a status update for the manuscript. But the problem is getting timely reviews is absolutely necessary for submitting a PhD thesis. Hence it is extremely important to get review within a stipulated time.

Since peer-review is time consuming, my question is:

When can I ask for a status update from the editor for a manuscript which is roughly twenty pages long for the following stages of peer-review?

  1. Manuscript is "With Editor" and it is not yet sent for peer-review.
  2. Manuscript is sent for first round of review but the reviews have not yet reached the author
  3. Second round of review when the manuscript is under minor revision which includes correction of typos, grammatical errors etc.
  4. Second round of review when the manuscript is under major revision.
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    Does your program actually require papers going into your thesis to be peer-reviewed? That seems quite unfortunate if true. I believe a more common standard is "peer-reviewable", that is, prepared and submitted or submittable. Your thesis committee is reviewing your work, too, in a different sort of review but similarly thorough.
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 22 '20 at 15:38
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    In any event, there seems to be a misconception here that if somehow you choose the ideal time to pester the editor at each stage of review your paper will somehow get special accelerated treatment. That seems very unlikely.
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 22 '20 at 15:40
  • As @BryanKrause says, "don't pester the editor". It won't help anything. The process is slow, etc., but, ... it's that way for everyone. Indeed, it is not a good structure, but at this year we have not systematically implemented better processes. Aug 22 '20 at 17:42
  • @BryanKrause; yes the program unfortunately requires papers to be peer-reviewed before getting into thesis. Do I inform the Editor about this process of ours, will that help?
    – Learnmore
    Aug 23 '20 at 3:08
  • @Learnmore You may have heard "Lack of planning on your part doesn't constitute an emergency on mine" or similar. Not saying it's specifically your planning, but basically your program's bad policies aren't the editor's fault. Your program has chosen a policy likely to cause students unnecessary stress, that fails to appreciate the unreliable timing of peer review, and seems to me to encourage publication in lower quality or even predatory journals. None of that is the editor's fault.
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 23 '20 at 14:48
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I can see two reasons where asking for a status update is any reasonable:

  1. You have a practical use for the information, i.e., it would actually affect a relevant decision you make. For example, when you know that the journal is only waiting for one reviewer who is trustworthy and promised to submit a report next week, you would not plan a lengthy vacation so you can react to the decision. If you just want a prognosis to soothe your impatience or similar, that’s not a practical use.

  2. Things are taking too long and you hope that nudging the editors will get them to take relevant action such as reminding reviewers. Mind that this is too long with respect to the standards of the field and journal, not your own time constraints. For details and particular what is too long, see: Is my paper under review (or similar) for too long and if yes, how should I react?.

In particular, there is no reason to expect that asking for status updates is accelerating anything unless Point 2 applies. It’s like repeatedly pushing the crosswalk button.

If you want to communicate something to the editors, do it explicitly (and not implicitly by sending frequent status requests). Specifically, just tell them why it is crucial for you to have a decision on this paper within whatever your deadline is. Even then, this will likely not considerably accelerate the process or ensure anything, but at least the editors might give you a prognosis as to how likely they will be in time or tell you when it becomes evident that they cannot make a decision in time.

Hence it is extremely important to get review within a stipulated time

First, are you sure? You can usually already search for postdoc positions and similar without your PhD being actually completed. Second, just that it is important does not mean that you can do something about it. Sometimes, things are just a matter of luck; this is usually one of those cases.

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    I don't have the citation on hand but I'm pretty sure I've read psych/UX papers that talk about how the crosswalk button (and similar scenarios) is actually quite cathartic and improves the user experience. Leaving people a pushable button makes them feel good. However, crosswalk buttons don't have feelings and don't get irritated with people triple-pushing them.
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 22 '20 at 17:51
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    @BryanKrause: However, crosswalk buttons don't have feelings and don't get irritated with people triple-pushing them. – Hehe. And of course even if they make you feel good, crosswalk buttons do not actually make the light change faster (except for the first push).
    – Wrzlprmft
    Aug 22 '20 at 18:54
  • Thank you very much for the answer , I have one question, In point (2), you talk about overly long, what is considered overly long here?
    – Learnmore
    Aug 23 '20 at 3:09
  • @Learnmore: There is no general answer to that, see the linked question on how to find out. Also see my edit.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Aug 23 '20 at 5:53

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