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I recently received a "revise and resubmit" decision for a submission to an Elsevier journal, and the deadline to resubmit is in about 5 weeks. Since I have to consult with my coauthors for my revision, and one of them is a professor who's not exactly fast in replying emails, I'm worried whether I'll be able to get a revision ready in time.

Is the resubmit deadline strict? Once the deadline passes and I don't make a resubmission, is the paper immediately rejected? Is it usually possible to ask for an extension?

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    If you expect problems with the deadline, then it is good to let the editor know as quickly as possible. In the end she decides what happens when you are too late. If she says the deadline is strict, then you have something to presure your coauthor. If she gives an extension then that is a solution too (but don't be too late for the extended deadline...) – Maarten Buis Jul 21 '15 at 7:58
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    @MaartenBuis this is not a comment but an answer! – Calimo Jul 21 '15 at 14:30
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In my experience, paper revision deadlines set out by journals are not strict. They are set out as a way to schedule and organize the journal operations. Perhaps deadlines for revisions are also to put a bit of pressure to authors to actually perform the changes in a reasonable time.

However, you are expected to meet them as a way to be respectful of all the people handling your manuscript, from the journal staff to reviewers and the editor(s).

As one comment stated, it is always a good practice to let the editor(s) and the handling staff know if you cannot meet a deadline, and to propose a new deadline that you would strive to meet.

Not meeting a deadline for a revision does not imply that your work does not meet scientific standards. Thus, rejections are not likely to happen. Still, not meeting a deadline and not offering explanations in advance would suggest that you are busy but rude.

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The strictness of the deadline strongly depends on the journal and the context of publication. For most papers to most journals, there is potentially a great deal of flexibility (assuming that you ask early and are polite about it). The main exceptions that I have encountered are:

  • High-impact journals sometimes expect you to drop everything else on their behalf, and thus may give both a short deadline and little flexibility.

  • Articles submitted for a special issue sometimes need to hit particular dates in a production schedule, and thus may not have much flexibility to give.

  • +1 for the explanation about special issues. Did not think about it when writing my reply, and it is a big deal. – dgraziotin Jul 21 '15 at 13:37
  • But don't assume that in the case of non-special issues they may be able to "simply" postpone your contribution to the next issue. After all they would need to somehow "fill the pages" with other material (possibly with articles already scheduled for next issue and thus currently having a long deadline) - and they'd need to do so on rather short notice if you are late in communicating deadline problems. – Hagen von Eitzen Jul 22 '15 at 8:34
  • @HagenvonEitzen For most journals that I have encountered, this is dealt with either by 1) the rather long times between acceptance and publication, when a paper sits in a queue waiting for its slot, or 2) being entirely electronic and not having to worry about number of pages in the first place. – jakebeal Jul 22 '15 at 12:00

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