I accepted a request to peer review a manuscript from a journal, but was not able to view the attached files correctly and reached out to the journal three times about this problem. They finally responded and addressed the issue, but now I am less than 3 days away from their original deadline for submitting the review and I know I need at least 1-2 weeks to do an adequate job. How should I ask or state my request for more time? Is it necessary to provide the reason or justify my request for the extension in my email?

For added context, this is a journal that I'm likely to submit to in the future, so I would like to maintain an amicable relationship with the current editor.

  • 17
    I strongly suspect that a sizable fraction of peer reviews for journals are late. Editors know this, and somehow manage to work around it. Your editor will probably be delighted to know that you need only another two weeks. May 24, 2021 at 19:50

3 Answers 3


Just tell the editor how much time you need to do a good job. You don't need to give reasons, and certainly not to apologize. They will accept it or not. I suspect they will, since sending it to another reviewer will take even more time.

There is no problem mentioning that there was a delay in getting necessary files, of course, but these delays happen to everyone eventually if you review a lot.

In this particular case, I'm assuming that the editor already knows why the delay has occurred. In the general case delay is common enough that it is planned for by editors and doesn't disrupt unless it is excessive.

  • 4
    You should give reasons. Are you encouraging slackness in peer review?
    – Rajesh D
    May 25, 2021 at 5:26
  • 3
    @RajeshD not slackness but let's keep in mind that with the exception of open access journals, when we peer review a manuscript, we are offering free labor to a publisher who then charges the authors to publish their work and the readers to read it. We do it because we believe in peer review and know that we are ultimately helping our colleagues, but we should remember that we owe the publishers nothing and we have no reason to explain ourselves to the people who are taking advantage of us.
    – terdon
    May 25, 2021 at 18:08
  • @terdon Really? Are there reputable journals that have both article publication charges and a paid subscription? I have only ever published in traditional journals (paid article access, free to publish) and open access ones (fairly steep APC).
    – TooTea
    May 25, 2021 at 18:52
  • @TooTea Um. Most of them? Nature and Science for sure, and every other journal I am familiar with (my field is biology) with the exception of open access journals. I haven't been in academia for the past 6 years or so, maybe things have improved, but I can't remember ever having published without paying the journal. The "traditional journals" for me are those that charge for both publishing and reading.
    – terdon
    May 25, 2021 at 18:59
  • @terdon Oh, OK, thanks a lot. I must admit I haven't considered publishing in Nature or Science yet. Publishers like ACS or AIP don't charge anything for their traditional journals while PLoS charges like $2k.
    – TooTea
    May 25, 2021 at 19:09

Simply write the editor telling that you need an extension of the deadline of two weeks. In general I would not write reasons for the request of extension, and especially here. Indeed, in this case you would have to tell the real reason of the delay, and it may sound "by your fault, I could not respect the deadline".

It happened to me several times to ask for an extension of the deadline as a referee. The only thing that would spoil an amicable relationship with the editor would be let him/her without news.


"I only received the attached files yesterday, so I will need another two weeks to review them". What's the problem?

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