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I had submitted my paper in an Elsevier journal one year back. Now, status update on the submission tracking says "Required reviews completed." However, for the last two weeks still there is no change in the status.

Should I ask the editor what is going on with my submission?

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    Default answer: A polite question is always ok. Keep in mind that editors are particularly busy people. – Dirk Jun 19 '14 at 7:28
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    Related: academia.stackexchange.com/q/22040/13852 (although the wording is different due to a different submission system, the status is pretty much the same and the answers should apply here as well). – Christian Clason Jun 19 '14 at 19:04
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    @behacad: In mathematics, four months is totally normal, and a year is not unusual. – Nate Eldredge Jun 20 '14 at 1:40
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    @Behacad Let me assure you, it is not (and nobody said "typical"; in my neck of the woods the average is about six months). Manuscripts can be extremely technical (and in extreme cases, understandable only by a few specialists), and all this work is done by unpaid volunteers who have not only their own duties to take care of but often many papers to review at the same time. But feel free to ask a new question about the reason why reviews can take a long time (try to make it less tendentious, though). – Christian Clason Jun 20 '14 at 13:41
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    FWIW, the Notices of the AMS publishes backlog data each year in their November issue. Here is the last one ams.org/notices/201410/rnoti-p1268.pdf. As you can see, median wait time of more than a year until acceptance is not unheard of. On the other hand, rejections can be very fast. – Sasho Nikolov Nov 11 '14 at 1:32
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To expand on Dirk's comment: The status you see means that the reviewers have submitted their reports to the online system, and the handling editor has received an email about this. Now she has to read the comments (and likely look at your manuscript again to see if they comments are relevant), come to a decision, and write a corresponding letter to the author summarizing the comments and justifying the decision. This will in general not take more than an hour.

But you should keep in mind that yours is not the only manuscript (nor, in all likelihood, the only journal) the editor has to deal with. In addition, this is both the end of semester and conference season in many parts of the world, so it is reasonable to assume that the editor is just very busy with more urgent deadlines, or isn't even in office. (Remember, editors are unpaid, so this work is on top of the regular duties of teaching, advising and doing their own research.) In some cases, the final decision even involves two editors (associate/managing editor and editor-in-chief/communicating editor), which doubles the chance of other things getting in the way.

In light of that, I would say two weeks is definitely too early to worry and start contacting the editor; give it at least a month.

(Although I know how stressful the wait at this stage of the publication process is...)

4

One year is a very long time for a paper to be under review, at least in the social sciences. Indeed, the change of status is promising, but I think following up with the editor on when the reviews will be complete is reasonable in this case. Indeed, as suggested in the comment (by Dirk), being polite is key.

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    Thank you very much for the answer. I am from the mathematics background. It took one year to complete the review process. I am confused whether it would be too early to contact the editor about the status of the paper. Two weeks have been passed but still the status is required reviews completed. – srijan Jun 19 '14 at 15:49
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If the paper was in review for a long time (over a year as you mentioned), it is a very bad sign. Being polite is an obvious solution, but, I am afraid, it may not help. Most likely your paper will be rejected. One of the reasons, the reviewers, who are in the same area of research, are not interested in publication of your work. They will find "convincing" excuse not to publish it. Unfortunately, you've lost a lot of time. Still not late, however. Go to another journal, not necessarily to highly ranked one, and submit it ASAP. Another good option, go to arxiv or vixra and make submission right away. Be wise, something is better than nothing. This is the best what you can do now.

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    This is bad advice: with a volunteer-run academic journal, there are any number of reasons you might get such a delay. If you submit elsewhere before receiving a decision, that could cause you to get rejected. – jakebeal Nov 10 '14 at 20:53
  • This is not a bad advise. You can wait until you'll get a decision another years or two while somebody else will publish same idea "independently". You should blame yourself if this will happen because it is completely your mistake. The best advise is to write a paper in a different format with same idea and publish it in a fast review journal or in arxiv/vixra. It is a reasonable advise. – user24156 Nov 10 '14 at 22:47
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    -1. This answer reads way, way too much into a two week delay. – Nate Eldredge Nov 30 '14 at 23:50

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