I have written a paper on COVID-19 with data that goes up to the 31st of July. I would say that the interest in this paper will reduce significantly as time goes on. I submitted the paper to a fast-track process of a relatively high-profile journal on August 5. This is the second time I have submitted to the fast-track process of that journal. Last time, both reviewers were assigned in a single day, and the first round of reviewing was complete in two weeks.

This time things were much slower. Reviewer 1 took over a week to assign. According to status updates, Reviewer 1's review is in as of August 20. A second reviewer still has not been found. I asked the journal whether there was any way I could assist, and they asked if I had reviewer suggestions. I thought a bit and provided a suggestion. That was before the weekend and I have not heard back.

Here’s my conundrum: If Reviewer 1 has recommended rejection, then the paper will not be accepted, so I think waiting any longer is a waste of time. I would like to see Reviewer 1’s review and feedback, implement it, and submit to a different journal ASAP, preferably still in August (so the data is less than one month old). I feel this is an unusual thing to ask: “Based on Reviewer 1's report, is the paper likely to be rejected? If so I'll just withdraw, make the changes, and submit to a different journal now.” If we wait till a second reviewer is found, that review takes time, and then the paper is rejected based on Reviewer 1's report, then I will be quite frustrated. I will have waited for little purpose and the paper will now be out of date and less likely to be accepted by another journal.

There's always a certain amount of chance with submissions. Do the reviewers like your paper – that's often quite subjective. If they don't, I'll roll the dice again, and would like to ASAP.

2 Answers 2


I'm interpreting your question as whether it's acceptable to ask for a decision based on the single reviewer report received so far. You could certainly ask but the editor's reaction is probably unpredictable. Some will be OK sharing the report (this gets more likely if the report isn't controversial), others will not be hurried.

The problem with sharing the report is that the decision might not agree with the report. There are all sorts of reasons why the first report might be rejected, e.g. (and this is an intentionally egregious example) if the reviewer says "this should cite A, B, C, D, E papers, aside from that it's acceptable". In that case the report effectively says nothing except ask for some citations. The second reviewer report will likely be the decisive report, and showing the authors the first report is rather pointless (other than to show how bad our journal's reviewers can be, i.e. not desirable).

Even if the first report is an honest and relatively positive report, the decision still might be reject, if the second report is sufficiently poor. In this case I would be more inclined to share the first report with the author before the decision, but I would stress that there is no decision yet.

It sounds like you're considering the case where the first review is damning enough to cause outright rejection. If that's what happened, the journal doesn't need to invite a second reviewer, they can already reject your paper. If they haven't already rejected your paper, then unless the editors are too busy to look at your submission, your paper still has a chance.

tl; dr: "Based on Reviewer 1's report, is the paper likely to be rejected?" is not an answerable question, unless Reviewer 1's report is well and truly damning, in which case they would already be able to make a decision. You could still ask for the review, but not every editor will show you the review.


You should not request special treatment because your paper is about a major current event. Journals will have many papers about the event, and they already know those papers are urgent.

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