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Several weeks ago, I submitted a comment paper/policy brief of about 800 words to a journal. The paper critiques frequent reports published by major international organizations, which I believe overlook an important aspect. Given the rapidly evolving nature of the topic, it’s crucial that my paper is published soon to maintain its relevance.

As a young researcher, I prefer publishing in peer-reviewed journals. However, I’m not sure of the best action given the time-sensitive nature of my work. Here are the options I’m considering:

  1. Contacting the editor and explaining my situation to potentially speeding up the review process. Has anyone had success with this approach?
  2. Publishing a preprint but would it affect my publication in a peer-reviewed journal later?
  3. Withdrawing and submitting to a magazine style The Economist, The Guardian, etc.

If you think of any better suggestion, please share with me.

I’d appreciate your advice!

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  • I would think that your submission to the journal would have a different structure and tone than a typical submission to The Guardian and the like (though The Economist might be closer to a journal), so I don't understand why option 3 would require withdrawing. Can't you do both, writing a different piece that covers the same ground? Since the audiences are presumably quite different, you would be doing a good job of getting your message out.
    – Mike
    Mar 25 at 15:05
  • Hopefully you noted this fact in the submission's cover letter, including basically your first paragraph of the question in the letter. If the editor couldn't accommodate this, then they would have desk rejected it.
    – user71659
    Mar 25 at 17:36
  • @Mike "The Economist might be closer to a journal" whoa, that is a lot of trust in one of the strongest lobbying group in the world. Jut look at who owns "the economist group": do you really think they need to sell copies and make a profit? they just need a good vector for their ideas and lobbying.
    – EarlGrey
    Mar 26 at 8:26
  • @EarlGrey I was just talking about the structure and tone of articles — not "trust", ownership, or anything like that.
    – Mike
    Mar 26 at 13:52

4 Answers 4

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I doubt that contacting them would change anything. Their priorities are more about quality than speed, I'd think. Only if the editor agrees with you would it be possible and it is likely still going to undergo a review.

A preprint is possible provided that the journal allows preprints and will still publish something that has already appeared. Many do, but some don't. You need to explore their policy before you act. And, a preprint might get little notice. Since preprints are not formally reviewed, they are just, in this case, the opinions of the writer. A published paper has some "backup" from the review process itself; an important consideration.

As a new academic, you want the paper published, of course, but if your concerns are valid, you want it "seen" not just published and you want the agreement of other experts. That suggests, to me, at least, that the publishing process works in your favor here.

Other places you might submit to will also have some process for acceptance and that might take time as well.

You say that it is crucial that your paper be published soon. It is normally others who make that decision, unless you are in a position to self-publish. But self-published work can be hard to find unless you are already well known to the audience.

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  • Thanks. Your insights are always helpful! About the preprint option: It is not written anywhere in the journal's website/guides. However, after the submition, the Review Timeline has been automatically transferred to Research Square. Also according to the Editorial Policy (springer.com/gp/editorial-policies/preprint-sharing), it seems to be encouraged. However, I am not sure of whether I need/should notify the editor before preprinting it.
    – Uri
    Mar 24 at 11:05
  • Yes, some journals do preprints, but want to do it themselves so that they control the venue. But author submitted preprints may be a different matter.
    – Buffy
    Mar 24 at 11:30
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    Obliquely relevant: I submitted a manuscript last year to a journal that encourages release of preprints on ResearchSquare, but ResearchSquare won't accept any preprint that "links to any commercial or other website" - my Acknowledgements section linked to the websites of some organisations (including one for-profit company) I was thanking for financial support, and I decided removing the links would be more hassle than getting a preprint out was worth. Something to watch out for. Mar 24 at 13:08
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Doing #1 can't hurt. It might not change anything, but, at worst, they say "sorry, we can't publish it quickly".

#2 I have no idea about this.

#3 I am pretty sure that the Economist does not take submissions. I'm less sure about The Guardian but you can look over past issues and see if they have op-eds. But, in general, newspapers (as opposed to magazines) do take "letters to the editor" and "op-ed" pieces.

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    for sure this ☝👍 If what you have is a timely "opinion" rather than a journal article, then a periodical - which could be an industry-focused one - would make the most sense. Exceptions could be where a journal specifically invites commentary, perhaps for online, or where you are so well-known you can just call an editor and ask them to print something.
    – Mike M
    Mar 24 at 16:40
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Your interests and those of a publisher might overlap in some respects, but for the most part they are quite distinct. What is important to you (publishing your paper quickly) is probably not of significant interest to a publisher unless your insights are so extraordinary that they are guaranteed to bring kudos to the publisher.

Having now submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, I suggest you stay the course and accept whatever outcome eventuates; there is plenty of life in which to publish something else later.

There is one last thing worth commenting on, and that is your use of the word "urgent". I understand that the topic about which you have written is one that is currently relevant ... but does the sense of urgency in any way reflect its importance. As Stephen Covey so frequently commented, urgency and importance in so many domains are inversely related. If your work if important and not simply urgent, you can take your time.

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There is one part in your thinking that bothers me:

The paper critiques frequent reports published by major international organizations, which I believe overlook an important aspect.

If frequent reports overlook an important aspect, it is likely that they are doing it deliberately, therefore there is no urgency because they know they are overlooking something, and if they know also someone else is knowing it.

There is no urgency in letting the overlooked aspect out, but there is an opportunity for you to team up with other researchers investigating the same overlooked aspects and write a strong case for considering the overlooked aspects, instead of writing a critique to deaf people...

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