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I submitted a paper to an ISI journal almost a year ago. The submission date of the manuscript was May 20, 2015. I received a referee report on January 15, 2016. The report was quite positive but asked for some major revision. I made all the required changes and submitted a revised version of the manuscript on March 10, 2016.

Ten days afterwards I received from the Editor a message that the manuscript would go into the refereeing process and Date received: March 10, 2016. Is it normal to change the initial submission date of the manuscript?

  • 1
    This is a little bit of a grey area: In some journals, if the editor feels that the revisions asked by the reviewers are major and would take a while, the editor will write something like "we cannot accept the paper at its current form, but after revising we invite you to resubmit the paper as a new manuscript". In this case you will get a new submission date. – Bitwise Mar 30 '16 at 18:44
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In my field, for a time, a very brief time, the time between submission and publication was a factor for people when submitting to journals. Some journals the time between submission and publication was close to two years while for other, equally reputable, journals the time between submission to publication was less than 3 months.

When people started complaining about the time to publications, the slower journals began to cheat. The outcomes of the review process used to be Accept, Revise and Resubmit, and Reject. To "speed up" the process they changed "Revise and Resubmit" into "Reject and Resubmit". The resubmission was treated as a new revision, although you got the same reviewers, so the submission clock was reset. While this did nothing to speed up the process for authors, it reduced the time between submission and publication (it also made the journal look more selective). As I said, it is cheating.

In regards to if it matters, while it would be nice for authors to have access to meaningful statistics, it is not something the publisher needs to provide. Some might argue that "time stamping", but realistically, in fields where articles are infrequently published in the first journal they are submitted to, time stamping does not exist since I have never seen a time stamp based on the first journal an article is submitted to.

One thing to be concerned about when the submission date changes is if the process has gone awry. It is possible that the resubmission is being treated as a new submission and not a "Reject and Resubmit". If that is the case, then you may get a new batch of reviewers (and editor). Unfortunately, the way the automated systems work, sometimes it is difficult to tell what is going on. In these cases, a quick message to the editor is not out of place.

  • +1 It does matter, not only does it deceive potential authors about the likely review times it means that the author potentially loses priority on their discovery/method, which should depend on the date the paper was first sent to the journal. What happens if someone else beats you to publication because their paper was accepted after one round, even though they submitted it much later than you did? – Dikran Marsupial Mar 31 '16 at 6:49
  • @DikranMarsupial I am not really sure what priority is, so I asked here: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/66052/… – StrongBad Mar 31 '16 at 12:57
  • Basically who is deemed to have discovered/invented something typically depends on who is first to publish (goes all the way back at least as far as the Newton-Leibnitz kerfuffle) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_priority – Dikran Marsupial Mar 31 '16 at 13:32
  • @DikranMarsupial sure, first to publish is not the same as first to submit (at least not in my field). – StrongBad Mar 31 '16 at 14:28
  • I think where the date of submission was given, that would be what defines priority (which is why it does matter, although I like Feynman's reported attitude ;o). The important thing is to be able to avoid accusations of plagiarism you want to be able to show when the paper was first submitted to a journal (it would be nice if there was a formal record where it is submitted to one journal and rejected before being accepted by another). Things like ArchivX help, but introduce other problems as well. – Dikran Marsupial Mar 31 '16 at 14:33
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The current refereeing process is about the revised version of your manuscript that was submitted on March 10, 2016. This is why the editor message refers to this date and not on the initial date your first version of the paper was submitted.

  • But they have given a new registration number to the manuscript. – X-ray Mar 30 '16 at 18:09

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