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Elsevier provides a tracking system through which authors can see how many reviewers have been invited, how many have accepted to review the paper, and how many have completed the review. If more than two reviewers accept to review the paper or turn in their reports, it indicates the number of reviewers as 2+.

Editors might do their due diligence and invite more than two reviewers, i.e. 2+. A reviewer might accept to review, while after another 3 weeks to one month, the others might either have declined or not reacted to the email. In this case, the editor might have thought that after inviting three reviewers, for instance, it's time to wait for the completion of the review process. The problem now is that when the reviewer who accepts turns in their report, probably after 6–8 weeks from the date they accept to review, the editor might then realize that only one reviewer has accepted to review and then initiate another review process, inviting a minimum of one reviewer. Thus, the review process is done sequentially rather than in parallel, which elongates the review time.

Is it advisable to softly inform the editor after 3 weeks (if only 1 reviewer accepts to review) to invite more reviewers? How would one go about doing this politely?

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    Are you an author of the editor-in-chief? Jan 4 at 17:06
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    No but you know sometimes there are outliers in editorial handling especially when Editors are out of office or seldom visit their editorial portals which could have far reaching implications on authors too due to the prolonged delays Jan 4 at 22:54
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    Are the 3 weeks in discussion the weeks across major holidays?across teaching semesters? around New Year's eve or Chinese New Year or Eid-al-Fitr?
    – EarlGrey
    Jan 5 at 11:34
  • Yes they are. But to provide further context paper was submitted 18th Nov. EiC passed to AE 26th Nov, AE sent for review 18 Dec. Jan 5 at 11:58
  • What if the status remained the same. Editor invited more reviewers 23 Jan but only one accepted to review still. I am adding this to know if the passage of time might influence such request. Then I tend to ask what is the benefit of having the tracking link asides knowing I need to keep watching Feb 6 at 5:38

4 Answers 4

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I don't think it is advisable at all. First, to "inform" the editor that they should invite more reviewers, rather than, say, "asking" them if they might consider seeking additional reviewers is certain to appear downright rude.

More importantly however, you are not the editor and it is not possible for you direct how an editor does their job. They'll do it however they want!

Also, you are ignorant (as we all are) of what goes on at the editorial desk. At the very best, you might have some information about the typical time for an editorial decision to be made, but it is highly unlikely that you know anything about how the editor will make their decision. Sure, it might be usual to invite one, two, three, four reviewers ... but do you know what processes the journal already has in place for dealing with reviewers who don't respond?

For example, there might be a fully automated process of which you have no knowledge, that sends out reminders to reviewers after a fixed time, and some time after that triggers a notification to the editor. Alternatively, the editorial procedure might simply be that the editor makes their own decision based on however many review reports they have managed to garner in the time allowed for consideration of your paper.

Just wait. If, after your paper has been with the journal for a time that exceeds, say, their 75th percentile decision time, contact the editor and ask if they can give you an update on the review process. And then make a decision about whether to leave the paper with that journal, or withdraw and submit elsewhere.

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    Thanks for the response. I appreciate the details here Jan 4 at 12:04
  • Would it be considered impolite to suggest some people to the editor as potential reviewers?
    – Bergi
    Jan 5 at 2:22
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    @Bergi yes. Don't do it unsolicited. If the editor writes to you (the authors) saying they're having trouble finding reviewers, then you can reply with "perhaps consider XYZ".
    – Allure
    Jan 5 at 7:40
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    What it boils down to is how to operate in a bureaucracy: you make polite suggestions to anybody other than your own minions (and you be careful with them, lest they push you under a bus). Jan 5 at 9:59
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No, it is not advisable to do that. People generally don't appreciate others telling them how to do their job (with exceptions for trainers, supervisors, mentors, people that where asked for help, etc).

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    Thanks for the response. This is quite concise. Jan 4 at 12:03
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Your article was sent for review December 18th, as people were heading off for the holiday break, or already gone. It is now January 6th, most of the US only got back to work sometime the end of this week. Most Europeans won't be back until Monday the 8th. Those who are back are likely scrambling to get their course prep out of the way first.

Moral of the story. Don't submit during the holiday season if you want a fast turnaround.

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A lot of editors have many different submissions that they are editing, and editing is usually just a part of an otherwise busy academic schedule. They may not frequently look at editng tasks. I think a reminder, in the form of a request, or even in the form of an enquiry, is not out of order.

I edit a fair bit, and do not mind such enquiries.

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