2

My supervisor suggested that I sent a pre-submission inquiry to a journal editor about the potential suitability of my manuscript. I wrote to the editor last Friday and still haven't heard back from them. I am wondering if anyone who has previously done so could let me know how long it took you to get the response from the editor? I am hoping that I could submit it by the end of November (which is already here) and just don't know if it's worth waiting for the response or maybe just submit it anyways. Would love to hear about your thoughts on this. Thanks!

3
  • 4
    Probably best to wait. Week or more.
    – Buffy
    Nov 24 '20 at 11:28
  • @Buffy Thanks for this! Yes I think I will wait until the end of the week.
    – Josee Luis
    Nov 24 '20 at 14:00
  • Friday and November will be a meaningless phrases for this question soon. Please update your question so that it can be understood months from now. Nov 26 '20 at 14:01
6

You wrote the editor last Friday. The time that has passed since you asked that question is a whopping 1.5-2.5 working days, depending on the exact time at which you sent your message.

This is a tiny amount of time in the calendar of many academics. Buffy is right in suggesting waiting at least a week.

8
  • 3
    For an editor, a week is roughly equivalent to a nanosecond.
    – Buffy
    Nov 24 '20 at 13:41
  • Thank you! Yeah I admit that I'm a bit impatient when it comes to submission (partly because I'm just so done with the paper after the first rejection). I think I will just wait while formatting the manuscript at the same time. I am also wondering if you have ever experienced non-response before? Did you switch to a different journal or just submit it anyway? I think the manuscript itself fits the scope of the journal well and they have published papers on similar topics before. It's just that my supervisor suggested that I sent a pre-submission inquiry to make sure they are interested in it.
    – Josee Luis
    Nov 24 '20 at 14:06
  • While I agree that there is no reason to expect a response yet, I disagree that waiting is the best option in all cases for a pre-submission inquiry for reasons I detail in my answer.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Nov 26 '20 at 8:58
  • @JoseeLuis I've been in your situation before, and - after waiting a few weeks for a response and never getting one - I decided to submit my manuscript elsewhere. While I respect and agree with advice to wait a bit longer for a response, I do think that all communication with a journal's editorial staff can be indicative of how the review and publication processes might go. If they're not responsive now, that is likely what you'll be dealing with further down as well.
    – Ace
    Dec 2 '20 at 21:56
  • @Ace Thank you. Yes it is a tricky situation. I am still waiting for the response and it is very likely that they will never reply lol. I asked my supervisor (who suggested me send a pre-inquiry in the first place) for advice and she said that we should just submit the manuscript anyways. So I am planning to do so by the end of the week and write an email inform the editor that I have done so.
    – Josee Luis
    Dec 3 '20 at 11:39
2

There are several possible reasons for a pre-submission inquiry, including at least:

  1. You are still in the process of finalising the manuscript.
  2. Adapting the manuscript to the journal’s requirement for a submission would be a considerable effort. This should rarely apply nowadays.
  3. The journal has on a long decision process involving multiple editors for desk-rejecting any serious submission and you expect that an unsuccessful pre-submission inquiry would be faster.
  4. You can send pre-submission inquiries to multiple journals simultaneously – while you can only (ethically) submit to one.
  5. You avoid the psychological impact of a desk reject (and instead may only get a vaguely negative response to a pre-submission inquiry).
  6. You consider it more likely that the editor responds positively to your pre-submission inquiry than to a full submission and then sticks to their decision. (Unless you know the editor very well, I don’t think you can score better than chance with this: The editor may as well be more likely to respond negatively to your pre-submission inquiry than to a submission and stick to that.)

Only you (or your supervisor) know what reason applies to your case and this determines the answer to your question. Going from what you write, I guess it’s Reason 1 or 2. In that case and if your manuscript is ready for submission, I strongly suggest that you submit it immediately (and probably should not have made a pre-submission inquiry in the first place) for the following reasons:

  • The editor has more information to work on and thus you do not risk a vague or “wrong” response to the pre-submission inquiry, in particular the editor responding negative to your pre-submission inquiry due to lack of information. In fact, my experience with pre-submission inquiries is that they at best yield a vague response.

  • In case of success, the editor only needs to engage with your submission once, which is almost certainly faster a regular submission after the pre-submission inquiry. Consider this: Most of the waiting time originates from the editor being busy with other things. Once they have time for your manuscript, they will consider whatever they have at that moment. (Therefore you do not risk interrupting or confusing the editor with a submission.)

  • All of the above also means less waste of the editor’s time, which is not only more ethical but also likely improves their attitude to you.

It is for these reasons that many journals explicitly ask authors to refrain from pre-submission inquiries, when they already have a manuscript ready for submission.

If you make a proper submission, be sure to briefly mention that you made a pre-submission inquiry in your cover letter or notes to the editor (depending on the journal’s submission system), for example:

Please note that we have made an open pre-submission inquiry to [editor].

… and notify the editor to whom you sent your pre-submission inquiry, so they do not miss it, and make clear that you do this so they have the full information (and not because you were impatient), e.g., you can write to the editor:

As we now completed our manuscript, we have submitted it, such that you have all the possible information available.

5
  • Thank you so much @Wrzlprmft for this detailed explanation. Given that this is an American journal and now it's Thanksgiving, I might wait until Monday to see if they write back. If not, from what you wrote, my understanding is that I should just go ahead and submit the manuscript anyways and let the editor know about the submission via email? How would you phrase the email to avoid sounding "rude" or "impatient"? Sorry for too many questions! Thank you very much!
    – Josee Luis
    Nov 26 '20 at 14:35
  • Given that this is an American journal and now it's Thanksgiving – Well, American journals can have non-American editors. — How would you phrase the email to avoid sounding "rude" or "impatient"? Sorry for too many questions! – To start with, explicitly state that you submit to provide them with the actual submission so they have all the information to work with (instead of only your pre-submission inquiry). The details of course depend on what your pre-submission inquiry contained and why you made it.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Nov 26 '20 at 15:10
  • Thank you! I still haven't received a response so I am planning to submit the manuscript anyways. Shall I say that "I have submitted the manuscript to the journal and thank you very much for your time"? Or take a step back, do you think it is the email is absolutely necessary? I understand that the editor might want to be informed about the submission despite the fact that they did not reply to my pre-submission inquiry. But since I will submit it anyways, will the editor think that I don't care about his/her response? Will that have an impact on the decision of the manuscript? Thanks so much!
    – Josee Luis
    Dec 1 '20 at 22:28
  • @JoseeLuis: You seem to be overthinking this. Just be brief and honest, e.g. in the manuscript: “As we now completed our manuscript, we have submitted it now, such that you can make a more informed decision.” (assuming that this is the truth) … and accompanying the submission: “Please note that we have submitted a presubmission inquiry to [editor].”
    – Wrzlprmft
    Dec 2 '20 at 6:18
  • Thank you so much, that's good to know. "As we now completed our manuscript, we have submitted it now, such that you can make a more informed decision", this is really brief and well-said! I will make sure to include it in the email. Thank you very much!
    – Josee Luis
    Dec 2 '20 at 9:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.