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I have submitted the paper to an Elsevier journal and one of the reviewers gave his review in just 5 days. However the paper still appears to be under review. I have 2 questions:

  1. Does the fact that the reviewer submitted the review in 5 days mean that they just rejected the paper?
  2. If reviewer 1 rejected the paper, shouldn't the journal reject the paper instead of waiting for the comments of the second reviewer?
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Your question is based on a wrong assumption, namely that fast reviews mean reject. I myself have accepted reviews and finished the review a day later with an accept recommendation. This was because I happened to have time that day. As a reviewer, you cannot spend an inordinate amount of time on a review. In Computer Science, if I am familiar with the subject, I can usually finish a review in a few hours. I usually wait for a night and a final second look before I submit a review. If I am not that familiar with the area, then of course it takes longer. I am not holding myself up as a good example, but just to assure you that a positive review might be done within five days based on my own experience.

If your field is Mathematics and you write in the typical terse style, then reviews are just bound to take longer, because reading Mathematics papers involves much more work. But then, when I was still a working Mathematician, the (bitter and cynical) joke around my colleagues was that the average number of readers of a Mathematics paper was less than 1.0, including reviewers and editors. Even in this case, if the review request arrives to the reviewer who has time (or wants to procrastinate grading, ...) the reviewer might do all the work within a few days.

Finally, you also assume that a single negative review will sink your paper. Even at a very prestigious journal, where one negative review will usually lead to a reject, the editor reads the reviews, reads the self-assessment and comments to the editor (such as, "I think this is non-sense but I have not done Beginning of Life Biology for decades and am now working in Experimental Archeology of South New Zealand, maybe you confused me with my cousin"), and only after looking at all the input from the reviewers will the editor make a decision.

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  • Just an anecdote from a mathematician: I recently had a paper accepted in Proceedings of the AMS 16 days after submission. So even in math, sometimes the process is fast.
    – the L
    Jun 8, 2023 at 10:39
  • Now the status on the editorial manager shows the required reviews completed; both reviewers submitted their reports only in 13 days after going under review. Now it shows the same status as "required reviews completed" from the last six days. What does it mean...??? Elsevier journal
    – Sarvjeet
    Jun 16, 2023 at 11:43
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If the first review was negative and the editor is going to reject on that basis, then I agree that they should do so as soon as possible. This not only saves your time but will save the other reviewer (who probably hasn't even started their review yet) some work.

However, there are several other possibilities.

  1. The first review was not actually negative. It sometimes happens that a review request arrives when I have no other active requests, I have some time available for reviewing, and the paper is easy to read. A quick positive review could happen in those circumstances.

  2. The editor hasn't had time to look at the first review yet. Editors have busy and less-busy times too.

  3. The editor has looked at the review, and although it was negative it was not very convincing (perhaps the reviewer does not seem to have read the paper properly), so they intend to ignore it if the other review is thorough and positive.

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  • Now the status on the editorial manager shows the required reviews completed; both reviewers submitted their reports only in 13 days after going under review. Now it shows the same status as "required reviews completed" from the last six days. What does it mean...??? Elsevier journal
    – Sarvjeet
    Jun 16, 2023 at 11:43
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  1. It's not possible to determine what the recommendation from a reviewer is just based on the number of days a reviewer spent on the paper.

  2. This is not a question, but your opinion. But an editor might still ask for revisions or accept the paper even though one reviewer recommends rejection.

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  • Now the status on the editorial manager shows the required reviews completed; both reviewers submitted their reports only in 13 days after going under review. Now it shows the same status as "required reviews completed" from the last six days. What does it mean...??? Elsevier journal
    – Sarvjeet
    Jun 16, 2023 at 11:43

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