Saturday, February 8, 2014

Manuscript Review Time

If you ever submit a paper to a journal, most likely your contact information is listed in the pool of reviewers. If your paper gets published, most likely you will be invited to review some other papers in the similar area. If you have published several good papers in the same area or you have submitted top quality review reports, the likelihood of your getting review requests can be very high. In my Four Steps to Review an Energy Forecasting Paper, I indicated that it takes me on average 4 to 8 hours to review a manuscript for a journal. This blog post tries to answer another question:
How much elapsed time should it take a reviewer to prepare the review report?
Different journals may set up the nominal review time (from the time a reviewer agrees to review the manuscript to the due date of the review report) differently. Among the journals I did reviews for, the first due date ranges from three weeks to three months. For IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid (TSG), it is 4 weeks. By default, a reminder is sent to the reviewer at the end of the 3rd week. After 4 weeks, the paper not being reviewed by a set number of reviewers will be in the status of "overdue reviewer scores". Then the system will send one reminder per week to the reviewer until the reviewer submits the review comments or the editor reassigns the reviewer.

When a paper is in "overdue reviewer scores" status, as an editor, I would like to take the following actions depending on the situation:

  • If I have not got sufficient review comments to make a recommendation, I will invite another reviewer who can turn in a quality review report quickly. 
  • If I have got sufficient review comments from other reviewers, I will disinvite the late reviewers and submit my recommendation to the Editor-in-Chief (EIC). 

Recently, a reviewer replied to me saying that he was half-way through the review when I disinvited him. He thought he had three months to review the paper, because that's how long he got a response from TSG as an author. I think a brief explanation of the peer review process would help clarify the issue.

In TSG, a manuscript goes through the following stages during its first submission, where the key personnel is highlight in bold; the elapsed time is in parenthesis:

  1. Administrative assistant does some sanity check and then forwards the manuscript to EIC. (1 week)
  2. EIC goes through the manuscript and then assigns it to an editor. (1 - 3 weeks)
  3. Editor reads the manuscript and then assigns it to a few reviewers. (1 - 2 weeks)
  4. Reviewers review the manuscript and submit the review reports. (5 - 7 weeks)
  5. Editor makes a recommendation based on the review reports and his/her own judgement. (1 - 2 weeks)
  6. EIC issues the final decision based on the editor's recommendation and his own judgement. (1 - 2 weeks)

This entire process takes 10 to 15 weeks. The manuscript is in reviewers' hands for half of the time, which is primarily depending upon the tardiest reviewers.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, the reviewer usually has a role of author in the publication ecosystem. If an author want to get his/her own paper(s) reviewed quickly, s/he'd better review others' papers quickly. In the case that one cannot submit the report on time, I would recommend that the reviewer sends a notice to the editor with an estimated completion date.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note that you may link to your LinkedIn profile if you choose Name/URL option.