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I am a novice in the academic publishing process and have recently submitted a paper that is crucial for my upcoming PhD applications. I'm trying to understand the current status of my submission based on the information provided by the journal.

Here's the timeline and status of my paper:

Paper submitted: 10th May 2023

Reviews completed: 1

Review invitations accepted: 1

Review invitations sent: 2+

Last review activity: 16th June 2023

I'm curious about a few aspects:

Does the "Last review activity" date mean that the editor has stopped searching for reviewers for my paper? Is it common or even possible for editors to review a paper themselves in situations where there might be difficulty finding external reviewers? Given that it's been over two months since the last activity and the paper is crucial for my academic progression, would it be appropriate to reach out to the journal for an update, or is this waiting period completely normal?

I'm quite new to this, and any insights would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

edit: By the time 23 August 2023, new activity dropped: Under Review =))

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This will depend on the journal. There are journals where it is forbidden for an editor to be a reviewer. On the other hand, some journals encourage their editors to be a reviewer to speed up the reviewing process.

It does not help to reach out to a journal. A journal depends on editors and reviewers, who are usually volunteers. They may take any random amount of time to process a paper. Some editors/reviewers could go 'missing', even after they have agreed to process/review a paper.

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  • Thank you for the insight. My paper is currently with an Elsevier journal. I'm curious to know if the status of my paper is visible to the editorial board throughout the review process. Essentially, is there a possibility that a paper might go unseen or be forgotten by the editor? Should I not be concerned about the scenario where my paper is "forgotten" by the editor?
    – AltunE
    Aug 19, 2023 at 23:14
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    Yes. The status is visible to the EiC and AE. The EiC monitors the progress of all submitted papers, and may email an AE if there has been inactivity, say after a few months or what is considered outside 'normal' timeframe. Note, whether this happens depend on whether an EiC is 'active'; e.g., he/she wants to improve the reputation of a journal.
    – VitaminE
    Aug 19, 2023 at 23:42

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