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I am the author of a 12-page double-column manuscript submitted to IEEE Transactions on Cybernetics. Here is the record of the updates within the journal online system, corresponding to the aforementioned manuscript:

  1. Submission Finalization: 7th Aug. 2015

  2. Under Review: 11th Aug. 2015

  3. Awaiting EIC Decision: 16th Sep. 2015

The journal has declared that the authors might expect the result between 8 up to 10 weeks after the submission. But how is it possible to review a 12-page manuscript with a 6-page supplementary material just within one month?

With a full sense of anxiety, I might think that it would be a sinister sign for the early rejection of the manuscript.

Does anybody have any experience with this journal or similar transaction ones, with such very short review-to-result time interval, to evaluate my situation?

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    This is highly field-dependent, but just to give you one extreme: The standard time given to reviewers to review a manuscript for a certain high-profile biology journal is 10 days.
    – Bitwise
    Sep 17, 2015 at 0:19
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    I just finished reviewing a 12 page (single column) article. My thorough 5 page review took me 5 hours (including typing). The paper was in a sub-sub-sub-field in exactly what I study however...
    – daaxix
    Sep 19, 2015 at 7:13
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    How much time do you expect a reviewer to spend reviewing your paper? (How much time do you spend on a paper that comes to you for review?) Jan 22, 2016 at 21:33

3 Answers 3

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I cannot make any statement about this journal and this may depend somewhat on the field, but so far I never spent more than a day’s work on any review. The main problem why reviews take so long is not that the review itself actually takes that long, but that reviewers need to find time for the review given their numerous other duties.

Therefore it’s entirely possible that a referee reviews a paper within a day – maybe somewhat more, depending on the field – if they have time at hand. This needs not have to do anything with the review being sloppy or the paper being bad; it’s just a question of luck. I know of one example where a paper for Physical Review Letters (a high-level physics journal) went from submission to publication in something around ten days. Also, one of my papers once received a positive review within four days.

If the journal expects the review process to take eight to ten weeks, then a month sounds entirely plausible. It’s not even outstandingly short.

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    It is for this reason that some journals ask for reviews in a quite short time: one journal that I often review for always asks for reviews within 14 days. They've got a pretty good pool of reviewers in the community, so if you don't have a good time for it in that window, they'll just ask somebody else instead.
    – jakebeal
    Sep 16, 2015 at 19:21
  • I've been tapped to do emergency reviews for papers whose initially-chosen reviewers flaked out. "By tomorrow? Please? Pretty please?" "Sure."
    – D.Salo
    Jan 23, 2016 at 21:18
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I don't know that specific journal but, for instance, the IEEE Transaction on Instrumentation and Measurements ask the reviewers to complete their reviews in one month (reviewers can ask for a few weeks' extension). So, typically, you can expect the reviews to arrive within 4-6 weeks, even in case of long papers.

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You'd have to ask the journal how they do it.

Think how long you'd take to review such a paper on a subject you know intimately. Note that "review" doesn't necessarily mean "read with utmost care, check each statement/proof/program carefully", it will lean more to "check if this seems to make overall sense, has the author shown knowledge of the techniques in use, does this look too simple or is it perhaps something well-known", i.e., is it a worthwhile step forward, plain nonsense, or just a rehash.

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    Actually from my (very limited) experience I would say that the time-consuming bit is often the novelty check/missed references. Though there is a sort of sour spot in writing quality where it's not bad enough to say "bin it" but is bad enough to make it hard work.
    – Chris H
    Sep 17, 2015 at 8:46

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