On the journal website my research papers' status is “Reviewed by all reviewers”. It has been almost 20 days without a change in status. Should I mail the editor/the journal? What should I write?
There are different scenarios that would explain this, many of which would not benefit from contacting the editor. First, you should be aware that your average journal is run on the academic side by volunteers, who have a job and who have other obligations. Second, editorial systems are mainly for the benefits of the editor, helping to insure that papers do not get forgotten. Here is what is possible:
- There is a glitch in the website, caused maybe by a reviewer begging out after the invitation window closed. Your paper is still waiting for reviews.
- The associate editor was too successful finding reviewers and instead of two / three, there are three / four reviewers and the editorial system cannot handle this case.
- Someone put in the wrong information into the editorial system.
- The reviews do not agree and the associate editor is looking for another reviewer or is reading the paper herself /himself.
- The associate editor is busy the last three weeks or was busy when the reviews came in. In this case, the editor will eventually prod the associate editor.
- The associate editor made a recommendation to the editor, who was busy the last two weeks and could / would not act on it.
If after three months instead of weeks, nothing has changed, it is appropriate to contact the staff, expressing the fear that something in the process has gone wrong.
A lot of editors try to keep the time-to-decision low, sometimes by imposing unrealistic expectations on the associate editors.