I understand that reviewers are quite busy and have not only a single paper to review. But, no matter how busy someone is, it should not take more than 2 minutes to reject a review request.

How did I get this question to my mind?

Well, it is a common question for everyone in academia, I guess. I am quite frustrated with the peer-review system and yes, I am impatient. Because after doing a lot of hard work on something and then achieving something real good out of this, which would lead to potential dissemination, turns out to be depressing.

We had submitted a work back in December 2016. Since February 2017, It was Under review. Suddenly, I see that it is Reviewer assigned. This system is really pathetic. Other parts of my question can be inferred from this.

As a reviewer, I don't reject the requests for review after 4 months. I would do the same within at most a week.

  • This doesn't seem that long to make you frustrated. There could be a gazillion of reasons for that. In academia, you should learn to be patient. I have a paper under review for ~18 months.
    – PsySp
    May 11, 2017 at 12:41
  • 1
    This site is not about agreeing on universally binding courtesy codes for academia. There are thousands of possibilities, ranging from the time of finding a reviewer that responds (yes, as editor I have had many review requests not even bothered to be responded to - perhaps they ended in spam, perhaps the reviewers do not read their email, perhaps they are disorganised, who knows), to one that actually says yes, to one that provides a useable review. Impatienceis not a virtue, either. Editors/reviewers do not get money, they do their job for the greater good. May 11, 2017 at 12:48
  • Besides being a rant, I see a real question here, so I would not vote to close.
    – Dirk
    May 11, 2017 at 13:41
  • 1
    Because after doing a lot of hard work on something and then achieving something real good out of this, which would lead to potential dissemination, turns out to be depressing. That's what preprints and preprint servers are for. You're not being delayed in disseminating your work, only in obtaining a seal of approval from peer review or acceptance in a prestigious journal.
    – user1482
    May 11, 2017 at 18:40
  • If you're managing your various responsibilities and due dates well, more power to you! It will be interesting to see how you're doing with being well organized and on time with everything ten years from now. May 12, 2017 at 3:26

2 Answers 2


In addition to the Kerkyras answer, here is what happens all the time when I receive an invitation:

  • The potential reviewer needs to find the time to skim the paper to form a well founded decision to accept or decline to review.

I want to accept a review when I am sure that I have the expertise and time to do a good review. It takes about 2 minutes to decide if I have the time for a review (usually my conclusion is "no"), but to decide whether I have the expertise is more complex (and if the answer here is "yes", I often agree to review, even if the answer to the former question was "no"…). Hence, a basic skimming of the article is needed and this may take some more minutes. Some days (or even weeks) are extremely busy such that finding just 10 minutes to skim a paper is hard.


A long time before review request rejection could come from a lot of possible reasons, which all basically translate to "the potential reviewer had something more important to do than answering a review request" (with his/her own subjective definition of "something more important").

Examples include:

  • the potential reviewer received the notification at a bad time and then forgot about it
  • the potential reviewer thought that a lack of answer would automatically be interpreted as a 'no', but it wasn't for several weeks
  • the potential reviewer deleted the email without reading it
  • the potential reviewer was out of the lab
  • the potential reviewer has been (sincerely) "meaning to do it tomorrow" for three weeks
  • potential reviewer #1 couldn't do it and said so in 3 days. So did potential reviewers #2, #3 .... and #58.

I made a provocative list on purpose, but most probably the long delays are partly due to people being busy and taking a few days(weeks) to answer (if you're in academic research, you should know about having a lot on your mind), and partly to several rejected review requests before finding someone accepting to do it. If you also add the fact that some people just plainly don't care, you're well into your 4 months of waiting time. As it is said in the comments: learn to be patient, there is no other option!

  • Maybe additionally a very important point would be that the person who got sent the invitation for a review is no longer in academics and thus simply doesn't answer. I think this happens very often with the highfluctuation of PhD students and Post-docs. May 11, 2017 at 15:29
  • Regarding your third bullet point: these days you still can't exclude that the email got tagged as spam and autodeleted without the recipient reading it.
    – origimbo
    May 11, 2017 at 19:12

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