From observations as an author and reviewer that I made myself and that have been reported to by others, it seems that the editorial system of the American Physical Society (which in particular publishes the Physical Review journals) works as follows:
- The editor selects a reviewer.
- The reviewer receives an invitation to review, which he can accept, decline or ignore.
- If the reviewer declines, inform the editor to select a new reviewer (i.e., go back to step 1).
- Otherwise, wait approximately one month for a review.
- If nothing has happened, inform the editor to select a new reviewer.
This means in particular that if the reviewer does not react at all (for an extreme example, because he died years ago), it takes one month until another reviewer is selected. In contrast, with all other publishers, step 3 seems to be instead:
3. If the reviewer declines or does not accept the invitation within a few days, inform the editor to select a new reviewer.
which seems much more reasonable to me, as a reviewer who does not accept to review (which usually is little work) for whatever reason is very unlikely to review a paper.
My questions regarding this are:
- Does it really work like this?
- If yes, why is the system not switched to one, which requires the reviewers to give some positive response within a few days?
Note: Just in case, somebody mistakes this for some disgruntled bashing: Apart from the above, my experience of publishing with APS journals has been rather positive. I am just puzzled by this seemingly nonsensical mode of operation.