I submitted a brief report (2,000 words) to a high-indexed journal and after some five days sent an email stating that a preprint for the manuscript had been uploaded. A journal assistant replied he was to get back to me on the preprint as soon as they heard from the assigned editor (I thought: Whatever, it’s just a preprint notification.) However, after 20 days, there was no reply, and after a month, the manuscript was still at the With Editor stage.

I sent a short email to check whether an editor had been assigned and received the following reply: “Dear XY, Th editor has mailed to patience that he is working on the same. Best, XY” After the email, the status of the manuscript changed to "In Review". How would you interpret this?

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    Either carelessness or a non-native English speaker as an editorial assistant. Nothing more. Perhaps they meant to say "recommend patience" and were interrupted. Don't overthink it or read too much into it. If you stick around here for long (recommended) you will get several "poor English" replies. Some from me, most likely. – Buffy Mar 24 at 14:22
  • Thank you for your answer. I should then leave it be. The paper should be published within the next five months, which is why I was trying to detect potential issues at the start. P.S. I know see how bad the term "bad English" is I used in the original title (which I have now changed). I did not want to associate the assistant's foreign language competence with any bad connotations. It was just to emphasize that I did not expect this from the journal I submitted the manuscript to. – John5543 Mar 24 at 15:17
  • "I know see how bad the term" - either an intentional or informative mistake in there :) – Bryan Krause Mar 24 at 15:30
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    Yep, @BryanKrause, we all do it. Even you, I bet. – Buffy Mar 24 at 15:39
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    @John5543 You wrote the word "know" when you meant "now". I think we're all in agreement that it's not a big deal and nothing to judge by, I just found it entertainingly ironic given the subject of the question. – Bryan Krause Mar 24 at 15:43

There are a number of explanations, but the most likely two are carelessness or a non-native English speaker who is assistant to the editor. In a lot of places like, for example, NYC the workforce is composed of people from many lands. And some high end journals may have a widely distributed (world wide) staff. So, some awkwardness with the language can be expected, and I hope excused.

The other, carelessness, is that people sometimes get interrupted during their work and leave out a word. I know that here, since I'm old and may my typing is sometimes awkward, the spell corrector will substitute a word and I don't notice it.

And, of course a single word inserted, "recommend patience" rather than "patience", would make it just about right.

Don't overthink it.

Also, a month with no change in status means little, though it is worth pinging the editor as you did. Journal time, like academic time, can run very slowly, slowly, slowly. Some folks wait six months or more for a change. Mystifying, but there it is. And if you got back a quick reply to your query, you are luckier than some.

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