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I'm a postdoc working in the field of cancer genomics. Recently I submitted my work to a Nature sub-journal. It quickly went from "manuscript submitted" to "editor assigned" and "manuscript under consideration". But there was no updates since then. Now it's been 3 weeks since the status first changed to "manuscript under consideration". As a newbee in this forum I cannot attach pictures, so I just copied and pasted the manuscript tracking information in the system here:

Manuscript under consideration: 18th August 23
Editor Assigned: 18th August 23
Manuscript submitted: 17th August 23
Submission in process: 17th August 23

It seems that it's stuck at this stage. I heard that Nature and Nature sub-journals reject papers pretty quickly if it was a desk rejection (usually within one week). So it might be a good sign? Does this mean that my paper is still being considered by the editors? Or could it be because the handling editor is trying to contact reviewers but the reviewers are just too busy to reply?

Update: the manuscript was rejected ~20 days later, and the editor recommended us transferring our paper to Nature Communications. They had a discussion with the editorial board of Nature Communications, and told me that our paper met NC's standards to send out for revidw. I think they were pretty hesitant whether or not to send our paper out for review at their journal. NC is still a decent journal so we were happy to have our manuscript transferred there. Now it's being reviewed at NC.

Edit: longer-than-usual waiting time could mean the editor is not sure whether the submitted work is good enough for their standard. They might be having a broader discussion which takes time. Not a bad thing in the end. Just to share my data point. Thank all the repliers and wish you all the best along your way.

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  • I’ve had a paper desk rejected after 6 months. 3 weeks is nothing in journal time. Just forget about it and continue the good work. Sep 8, 2023 at 2:48
  • Oh dear 6 months... Yea I'd better not thinking of it any more. Thanks for sharing your story and hope everything goes well! Sep 8, 2023 at 2:55
  • this is definitely not standard, but the point is it’s very hard to get any signal about how your paper is doing from the time it has been review. Sure, longer can mean better, but I’ve had papers accepted in top journals extremely fast (say 2.5 months). Sep 8, 2023 at 3:01
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    @user3508551: Please do not make any generalisations on paper handling time as those vary considerably between fields and journals. Six months of handling time would be more than excessive for Nature (or any sub-journal thereof).
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 8, 2023 at 5:23

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There are many questions on this forum of the kind "What can I divine from [...]" about what it means that the editorial system shows some state for some period of time. The truth is that you can't know -- the paper is somewhere between the editor, the reviewer, the editorial team, and the systems do not show you real-time updates (such as reviews that may already have been uploaded). The only thing you can do is have patience and try to be productive with other things in the meantime!

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