7

The following question asks about how long after making a submission you should wait before contacting the editor to enquire about the status of the submission. (i.e., When / how should I ask about a manuscript's status in review? ). Many people suggested that after around 6 months, it was reasonable to contact the editor to enquire about the status of the manuscript.

I have a manuscript where we received a positive set of first round reviews. We submitted revisions. It has now been five months. So my question is:

  • When is it appropriate to enquire about the status of submission of revisions?
  • Would you use the same rule of thumb that you use for initial submissions (e.g., 6 months or so)? Or is it reasonable to enquire about the status of the manuscript sooner? Alternatively, would you be less inclined to enquire about the status because there is more to lose by irritating the editor?
7

When is it appropriate to enquire about the status of submission of revisions?

At any stage of the publication process, you should feel free to check in whenever you think the referees / editors / typesetters / whoever have taken a reasonable amount of time to do the job, and you are beginning to worry that your paper is not being processed in a timely way. I don't think that is any fixed amount of time: in particular six months was suggested by one pure mathematician for papers in pure mathematics. It happens that I also use six months as a rough guideline (I am also a pure mathematician), but I will adjust in either direction if it seems reasonable. For instance, if the paper is so short and easy that a qualified referee could do it one sitting then six months doesn't make any sense. If the paper is 50 pages long and hard even for me to read, six months doesn't sound like enough time. Of course what I think is an appropriate amount of time is a subjective judgment but informed by my own refereeing experiences.

Would you use the same rule of thumb that you use for initial submissions (e.g., 6 months or so)? Or is it reasonable to enquire about the status of the manuscript sooner?

If it seems clear to you that refereeing the revised version should take much less time than the original version then sure, inquire (or "enquire," depending upon where in the anglophone world you are) sooner. In my experience, most referees do turn around minor revisions much faster than the original report. The flip side of this is that the editor will of course try to get the same referee to do the revisions, and the referee might have become busier in the meantime. Anyway, all you can do is ask.

Alternatively, would you be less inclined to enquire about the status because there is more to lose by irritating the editor?

I am feeling a bit jaded about the publication process right now -- the quality of service that an author can expect from their submission experience varies so wildly as to seem like a fairness issue -- but I am not so jaded to think that editors would allow their feelings of "irritation" at this (completely appropriate and expected) authorial behavior to influence their processing of the paper. I have seen a lot of weird stuff happen over the years, but I've never seen that. However, I've witnessed many, many instances of authors who don't stand up for themselves and get victimized because of it. So I think it is much sounder strategy to "irritate" editors more rather than less often. Either that or cultivate a kind of inner peace that allows these kind of delays to, truly, not bother you. For that I think it helps to do a fair amount of refereeing of one's own!

3

It also might depend on the publisher's/journal's policies. While the journal can never garantee a review time the editor can influence the time of review. In all review request's I so far received I was also questioned if I could perform in timeframe XY.

Usually I find in the author's guideline an average review time of the last three years or so. This should give you a rough hint to your question.

Apart from that I personally consider a revision review of five months a quite critical time frame already in general. The reviewers have read the manuscript before and documented critical paragraphs. It costs a lot less time to: a) re-read the whole manuscript, the reviewer already has understood the underlying theory b) check if the suggestions have been implemented and if not to check if the author's defending arguments are reasonable

By no means I can imagine that a friendly written email about the status can be considered as spam or unethical pressure from the authors' side. Remember despite what I said there can always be reasons for an extended review time. The reviewer can get sick for example.

To conclude: I would recommend spending again a reasonable time on the journals homepage to check if you find useful informations about the review time. If not you can check also previously published papers too see if your time is an outlier. After that prepare a well written email to the editor if you do not find any reasons not to do so.

3

Disclosure: I am frequent reviewer and a member of an editorial board of SCI-indexed journal. The clear answer would be: you MAY ask at any time, but I suggest that you wait for the period that usually takes papers in that particular journal to be accepted. This information is, AFAIK, not systematically collected, but many journals publish "Submitted on:" and "Accepted on:" dates with the accepted papers, so it is sufficient to browse few papers for the last year to get an insight how long does it usually take.

In my field (engineering) most journals give reviewers one month to complete the reviews, I have seen deadlines as short as two weeks and as long as three months.

So if you are waiting for the next iteration for five months, it is fair chance that one of the reviewers did not complete his review (yet) and the editor should really be kicking him hard to do his duty (which he may be doing it, but behind the scenes).

So: YES, do ask after waiting five months.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.