8

When I am reading papers, sometimes I see statements like

Manuscript received October 29, 2012; accepted March 16, 2014.

Does this implies that the paper is directly accepted?

5

Not necessarily. Some journals only state dates for submission and acceptance. In such cases dates for revisions are not mentioned. Since it is not uncommon, at least in fields with which I am familiar, for papers to go through two (or sometimes more) revisions, a date for revision usually refers to only one, the first set of revisions.

I can also confirm Anonymous Mathematician's notion that some journals only accept papers that receive minor revision and reject those with major, but with the explicit understanding the paper should be resubmitted once revised. This will officially shorten the times from submission to accept but is of course a questionable action to manipulate such statistics.

1
  • With a submission date of Oct 2012 and an acceptance date of March 2014, I really hope this wasn't a play by the journal to shorten the decision time.
    – StrongBad
    Aug 22 '14 at 9:59
3

Yes, it should mean the paper was accepted with no substantive changes. Otherwise, it would say something like "revised June 1, 2013" in between the submission and acceptance dates. If there were several revisions, then only the final revision date is recorded.

In my experience, journals can be a little sloppy about this and allow small changes (such as typo fixes or minor rewording) without such an indication. Perhaps they should be more careful, since following an unambiguous rule has its benefits. However, this doesn't seem to be considered a big deal if the changes aren't substantive.

There might be some journals that never indicate revision dates. I think that would be pretty nonstandard, but there are a lot of journals out there and diverse practices in different fields, so it's hard to say for sure. (There are certainly journals that don't even show submission dates in the first place, but that's a different issue. The weird part would be highlighting the submission date while ignoring substantive revisions.)

I've heard stories about journals asking authors to submit a revision as a new submission (see, for example, this blog post). In that case, the "manuscript received October 29, 2012" might be disguising the fact that there was an even earlier version (to make it look like the journal handled the paper more quickly). However, I've never seen any evidence of this myself, or heard these stories in mathematics.

4
  • At least one of the journals I review for (iirc) uses the following system: accept / minor revision / major rev. / reject and resubmit / reject permanently. It helps because some authors don't treat major revisions as 'major' enough.
    – choener
    Aug 18 '14 at 8:52
  • This is not my experience. Do you please have an example, which journals provide the dates of all the revisions?
    – yo'
    Aug 19 '14 at 20:27
  • @tohecz: As I said in the answer, I believe only the last revision date is recorded if there are several revisions. But recording a revision date is common in mathematics (see dx.doi.org/10.1090/S2330-0000-2014-00003-4 for Transactions of the AMS), physics (see dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.071303 for Physical Review Letters), and computer science (see dx.doi.org/10.1145/2629600 for Journal of the ACM). Aug 19 '14 at 20:56
  • @AnonymousMathematician Ah, thanks. I have never seen that. It's really interesting that it exists. Now I see that it might be useful to know the revision date if the revision includes something crucial. Thanks again :)
    – yo'
    Aug 19 '14 at 21:07

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