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I have finished writing my first paper to be published in a journal. My intent is to try to publish in a high-impact journal (there are two candidates from the IEEE Transactions class). However, my advisor and another professor, who is close to our research, both suggest that I should refrain from trying to aim that high, i.e. first publish in a lower ranked journal. They state that the reason is not the insufficient quality of the paper, but rather the length of the acceptance process, which is in their experience particularly for first-time authors very prolonged. The argument is, that I would lose many months, perhaps even more than a year in the back and forward process of rejections and resubmitions, when all this could be cut significantly, if a l. All that seems a bit pessimistic to me, of course, I don't want to wait so long, but I was under the impression that such a process would take at most 3-4 months.

Are those considerations regarding first-time authors deemed accurate? Would it be appropriate/advisable to contact the editors of the journals with my concerns regarding the length of the acceptance process?

PS: the field is computer science

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    A big difference for first-time researchers is that you are in more of a hurry than everyone else. Your advisor can afford to wait an indefinite time for a publication to happen, as long as it gets published where they want; a PhD student close to graduation needs the publications now. – Peteris Sep 10 '14 at 18:14
  • I am really not sure what you are asking, but is this related: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/2677/… – StrongBad Sep 10 '14 at 19:27
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I was under the impression that such a process would take at most 3-4 months.

No. 3-4 months would be, in my experience, extremely quickly for Computer Science transactions. That would mean that your submission would get accepted without modifications in the first revision, which almost never happens (and even then 3 months would be very fast). 1 to 2 years for the entire process is more common.

However, this has nothing to do with it being your first paper. It is the same for every submission. Those journals have pretty rigours peer review, which simply takes some time.

That being said, it will also be similar for other non-spam journals. I am not aware of any reputable CS journal that would suit your 3-4 months expectation.

Would it be appropriate/advisable to contact the editors of the journals with my concerns regarding the length of the acceptance process?

The answer would very likely be "deal with it or submit somewhere else". Frankly, if a journal had a reasonable way to cut down on the time required for the review process without hampering review quality, they would arguably do it anyway. They are not going to "make an exception" or anything of this ilk.

my advisor and another professor, who is close to our research, both suggest that I should refrain from trying to aim that high, i.e. first publish in a lower ranked journal. They state that the reason is not the insufficient quality of the paper, but rather the length of the acceptance process

I would assume they meant not "a lower ranked journal", but rather "a conference". Review durations for conferences are indeed much more predictable (and, generally, shorter, in the 2-month range on average).

Submitting to a weaker journal to get your notification a little bit faster does not seem like overly good advice to me. If they indeed were speaking about a lower-ranked journal, you should consider the possibility that they were sugar-coating their judgement that your paper is not good enough for a very strong journal.

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I think it is perfectly appropriate to contact the editors with whatever question you have regarding the submission process. But first check the information in the web site. If there is not explicit information about the time it takes to review the manuscripts in the journals' instructions for authors (or elsewhere) then you can of course contact the editors. Personally I have contacted the editors previous to submission in several occasions to inquire about different aspects of the submission process or the journal's policy or even status (e.g. IF, indexing in PubMed, etc.).

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    By all means ask questions but don't ask for special treatment: you won't get it. – David Richerby Sep 10 '14 at 20:34
  • @DavidRicherby, I never said asking for special treatment. Of course you won't get it and indeed that would be unethical. However, it is perfectly appropriate to contact the editors with questions regarding the submission process, including how long it takes on average to complete the review process. – ddiez Sep 11 '14 at 4:11
  • I know you didn't suggest asking for special treatment; I was just making sure the asker knows it's not a good idea. (The question refers to "contact[ing] the editors of the journals with my concerns" and it's only a small step from contacting somebody about one's concerns to asking them to alleviate those concerns.) – David Richerby Sep 11 '14 at 6:38

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