I have written a research article and everyone else has timely submitted their part of corrections after reading the paper. My supervisor is really busy, all the time. I can understand that.

However, I also have my interests at stake. A timely publishing means more citations and ensuring the idea is still new. Me and another student submitted the articles to him to read and the other student has already published that article. It has been almost 5 months where I remind him at least once a month to read my paper and suggest whatever minor suggestions there are, but he always says he will look into it and doesn't.

What it the most diplomatic way to handle this situation of getting the paper read and maintaining good relations?

  • 1
    Do you believe your article is in a good enough state to submit? Is your supervisor an author on the paper?
    – TimRias
    Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 16:18
  • Is it possible to have a sit-down with the prof and plan out a way forward. Possibly the paper is ready to go.
    – Buffy
    Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 21:06
  • @mmeent Yes, I think so. Yes. Buffy: It is possible but would look like an escalation.
    – quantacad
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 8:16
  • I asked two questions
    – TimRias
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 8:17
  • I answered both.
    – quantacad
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 8:19

4 Answers 4


As a busy professor, who has held up publication of papers in my lab, I would recommend scheduling a sit-down meeting with them and just asking the professor to read the paper while you sit there.

It seems like time-management might be an issue for the professor, but by agreeing to the 1 hour meeting (or maybe you can ask for 2 hours), they are committing that time. Maybe it's enough to get them to sign off.

At worst, you will get some feedback about what needs to be done before submissions. Then ask if you can do the same thing the following week.


Perhaps you have resolved this already, but if not, I'd suggest a sit-down with them. I don't see it as an escalation. Say that you realize how busy they are and ask permission to move ahead with the paper without their further input. If they trust you and the others, then they may say fine, implicitly approving the current version.

If you think there are some portions that truly require their input, you could come prepared with a few questions and even a marked up copy of the paper, highlighting the areas you are unsure of. It need not be a long meeting, nor a confrontational one.


Unless your supervisor is intentionally evil and/or ignoring you, they should be more than happy to accept an invitation to sit down and discuss it. They should also understand that this is important for you.

Asking for an appointment where you meet in person may be what is needed to move this to the urgent pile. Most over-stretched professors mean no harm, even if they unintentionally cause it...


I note the suggestion by jerlich to set a meeting with your professor and use it to sit there and watch him review the paper. This is a reasonable idea, but it might be off-putting to the professor for you to sit there while he works; it might also cause him to rush his review.

A slight variant on this that is sometimes used in busy consulting firms is to "book time in the calendar" by sending a meeting request for a 2 hour block in the professor's calendar (with a reminder ping on the invitation), but setting it just as review time without the expectation that the student will be there --- e.g., title the calendar invitation "Review quantum's paper" with no location specified. If the professor accepts the calendar invitation then you can be confident that they have locked in time for the task and it is in their calendar to avoid conflicting appointments. This is a method used in some busy offices, particularly in large consulting firms.

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