I submitted a paper to the top journal in my field. The journal's home page sets 120 days for a decision as a goal. Recent stats suggest 60 days to initial decision is more typical.
It has now been seven months, with no word. (The paper sat in the queue marked "Awaiting AE assignment" for two months, and has since been marked "Under review".)
Colleagues have varied in their recommendations about approaching the SE [Senior Editor] with a polite query as to when the review might be complete. Some advised strongly against it, due to some bad experiences with quick rejections following such a query. Others, typically more senior (and tenured) people, advocate a "wait and see" approach. Recently, I was able to speak with the former EIC [Editor-in-Chief] of a peer journal (a different journal, also at the top of my field), who very candidly advised me to contact the SE immediately about a decision. On his advice, I did so.
It has been two weeks without any sort of response with the SE.
I have chatted with other editors at this journal (AEs [Associate Editors] and SEs), and concluded this is likely a continuing issue with this particular SE. He is purportedly exceptional in his reviews, advice, and decisions, but not so much with timeliness.
As a very junior person, the status of this paper is very important for job prospects. My mentor (and co-author) takes something of a "throw me into the deep end" approach, and invites me to solve the issue without his intervention.
So, my questions are these: How long should I wait before contacting the SE again? Is there a point that I should contact the EIC or managing editor? (For context, as I understand it, the managing editor is a very junior person, effectively an administrative assistant to the EIC.)
May be similar to Is it wise to contact the editor of a journals with my concerns regarding the length of the acceptance process?, and perhaps How to let a journal know that its submission process is very painful?, as well as some others, but different in seeking advice for escalation beyond SE.
Edited to clarify EIC [Editor-in-Chief], SE [Senior Editor], AE [Associate Editor]. As I understand, SE is assigned by managing editor, based on content and submission letter. SE assigns a blind [?] AE. AE assigns/recruits blind reviewers.