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I submitted a paper to a journal X of maths which is one of the best journals in a field Y. After more than six months I sent the handling editor a polite reminder email, in which I requested to inform me about the review process. After six days I recived the following

Unfortunately, we cannot accept it for publication. Of the four quick opinions I requested, two have now arrived, and neither is sufficiently encouraging to warrant sending the paper out for full refereeing.

I am sorry to have held the paper so long without being about to do more than to pass on the following brief suggestion:

The suggestion was merely to mention some results from a reference that I cite in the paper in the introduction. Is it reasonable that "quick opinions" took six months? without even sending a report?

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    It sounds like the editor explained pretty clearly what happened: they asked 4 people for a quick opinion, got two replies that were not supportive, and the other two didn't respond. They were probably waiting to contact you until they heard from all 4, but since you pinged them they took a look at what they had (or possibly nudged all 4 and got 2 quick replies) and decided it wasn't going to matter, so they've apologized for not being in contact earlier and let you know your paper is rejected. What are you looking for an explanation for?
    – Bryan Krause
    Nov 21 at 18:30
  • @BryanKrause But do you think that six months is reasonable to get a desk reject? Nov 21 at 18:34
  • It's not really a desk reject if they've solicited opinions from four reviewers. It seems like two of them said the paper wasn't worth their time to review. Other questions here deal with review times including in math, for example: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/32768/…
    – Bryan Krause
    Nov 21 at 18:35

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I don't think this is reasonable; "quick opinions" should actually be quick. When I have had papers rejected in this way, the timescale has typically been less than one month. However, there's not much you can do about it other than avoid that journal in future, and probably you are fortunate that they didn't take significantly longer getting a full review.

Four quick opinions would be excessive, so presumably the editor sent it out to two people, never got a response (or, worse, got confirmation that they would do it and then nothing more), and then tried two more people who did respond. Even so, it's hard to see how this took so long.

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