• June 28, 2017
June 28, 2017, 6:47:41 pm *
Welcome, Guest. Please Log In to participate in forums.
News: For all you tweeters, follow The Chronicle on Twitter.
 
Pages: [1] 2 3
  Print  
Author Topic: Journal Peer-Review Methods & Timelines in Different Disciplines  (Read 21407 times)
wikiprofessor
New member
*
Posts: 8


« on: October 29, 2006, 11:25:48 pm »

I am interested in knowing some ballpark information on the timelines and methods for peer-review (refereeing) in journals in different disciplines:

Physics
Chemistry
Biology
Engineering Sciences
Mathematics
Statistics
Other “natural sciences” (please name)
Economics
Political Science
Sociology
Psychology
Management Sciences
Other “social sciences” (please name)
English
Modern Languages and Literature
History
Philosophy
Other “humanities” disciplines (please name)
Any other disciplines (please name)

I understand that different journals (even within a field) would have different timelines, but I am just looking for averages here.

The idea is to informally understand which discipline has the best turn-around time for journal peer-review – and to see if there is any special “system” that works the best. I would also appreciate it if any of you could suggest any scholarly work that studies this question.

Thanks!



Logged
crazybatlady
The Very First
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 4,867


« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2006, 12:19:36 am »

I don't think this is an answerable question, wikiprof.  What do you mean about timelines and methods?  There are so many variables:

I get an article for review.  By the time I receive it, it may have been with the editors for anywhere from 1 week to 4 months, depending on the time of year and how many people moved it to the review process.

Then, I get a deadline, usually 1 month off.  I return it.  Then, the editors write their overview, which can take as long as it takes.

So what?  This example shows variation between 1 month and 6-12 months.  Not very helpful, I suspect.  And this assumes everything works as it should, which doesn't always happen....
Logged

As always, CBL rules!  All hail the CBL!
wikiprofessor
New member
*
Posts: 8


« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2006, 12:37:50 am »

Sorry, I should have been clearer with my question. I am trying to figure out  from our experience from both sides of the review process ( as authors and reviewers) whether some disciplines have been able to streamline the review process better than others.

This question is motivated by the fact that the people from the physical sciences in my institution report faster turnaround times (on an average) compared to people from the humanities  and the social sciences. This has led me to wonder whether the process is just more efficient in some disciplines - and we could all think of adopting those best practices (with discipline specific modifications of course).

To give you an example, I came across a timeline for a certain journal, in mathematics, on the web. I am cutting and pasting the timeline below. I can tell you that no journal in my discipline has such a streamlined process ( which actually includes the editor sending frequent reminders to referees, and responsibly moving the process along a set periodic timeframe). 

Maybe streamlining the review process, as seen below, might improve the time-lag for publications in many disciplines. I understand that journals might need more resources to adopt the method seen below.


_____________________________________

Refereeing timeline

Target Deadlines Concerning the Refereeing Process

1. In-house Evaluation. This preliminary step may take up to four weeks, although it usually takes only half that time.


2. The Editorial Board working with the Managing Editor reviews all papers. Frequently a member of the mathematics faculty will be consulted because the content of the paper is more appropriate for that faculty member. A decision is then made as to whether the paper will be sent out to an external reviewer. If not, the paper is returned to the author unrefereed.


3. Finding a willing referee. This step, ending on a referee's acceptance to review the paper on hand, may take up to three weeks for every prospective referee.


3. The decision to have a paper refereed triggers a scheduler to accommodate unknowns (e.g., the referee is away on vacation). Two emails one-week apart are sent to the prospective referee asking whether he received the original refereeing request. When there is no answer, the Editor will begin searching for a different referee.


4. Getting the referee's report. This step, ending on the arrival of a refereeing report, should take no longer than two months, though it may take twice as long.


5. Once a referee accepts to do the job, the Editor will wait up to 8 weeks before sending a reminder. The usual limit is two reminders, sent one-month apart. However, the referee may request additional time because of a myriad reasons (e.g., the paper is very long or very technical, unforeseen personal circumstances, etc.). Editors will often grant such requests. In exceptional circumstances (e.g., the referee is the best resource person in the field, or several prospective referees were contacted before getting an acceptance from the current referee), the Editor may wait a little longer and send additional reminders.



Logged
psychle
Senior member
****
Posts: 565


« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2006, 1:39:12 am »

Here is a summary of my typical experience with the peer-review process in psychology:

When I submit a manuscript to a journal:

1. The editor determines whether the manuscript seems to be appropriate for the journal, in terms of both content (e.g., relevant subject area) and format (e.g., a long manuscript is inappropriate for a journal that only publishes brief reports). If so, then the manuscript is assigned to an action editor. Time: 1-7 days

2. The action editor sends out requests to potential reviewers until 2-4 people agree to review the manuscript. Time: 1-7 days (although it can take longer for more obscure topics)

3. Wait until the reviews come in. Time: 1-3 months (average is 2-3 months). This is the primary bottleneck in the process.

4. The action editor reads the reviews, writes the action letter, and sends it to the authors. Time: 1 day - 1 month (average is 1-2 weeks)

So the entire process, on average, takes about 2.5-3 months for an original submission. The quickest I've experienced has been 1 month; the slowest has been 4 months. Of course, it is rare for a manuscript to be accepted after the first round, and the review process for a revision can easily take another 2 months, often longer. (In many cases, the review process for a revision has taken longer than it took me to write the revision!) And interestingly, in my experience, the time for the entire process does not differ too much between brief reports (~ 4,000 words) and longer manuscripts.

When I get a manuscript to review, I typically submit my review in 1-4 weeks. Only once have I taken longer than that, but there were mitigating circumstances. However, I typically won't get a copy of the action letter for at least another month, which suggests to me that I'm rarely ever the tardiest reviewer.
Logged
trabb
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 2,655


« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2006, 9:42:13 am »

From my own experiences in English:

Average time from submission to initial decision: 4 months

Fastest time from submission to rejection:  3 months (not sure why it took 3 months to decide not to send the article out for review unless there was disagreement between a couple of in-house readers).

Slowest time from submission to rejection:  15 months  (my sense was that the editors wanted an excuse to publish the piece while the reviewers weren't giving it - I may be reading too much into the editor's letter accompanying the reader reports)

Fastest time from submission to acceptance:  3 weeks.

Slowest time from submission to acceptance:  6 months

Fastest from "accept3d pending revisions" to full acceptance:  2 weeks

Slowest from "accepted pending revisions" to full acceptance:  2 months
Logged
snape
Senior member
****
Posts: 474


« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2006, 10:47:09 am »

Slowest time from submission to reject: 6.5 years.
1. Paper submitted to editor. Hear nothing for six months. Try to find out what has happened. Write it off. Hear nothing.
2. Referees' comments arrive suddenly after two two years (and a new editor): Revise and resubmit.
3. Revise and resubmit. Get referees report. Revise and resubmit "A lot has been published since I last saw this paper..." was one comment. 3 years.
4. Editor wants rewrite 4 years.
5. Editor keen to publish, but not possible until 6 years after submission. Journal want less of X and more of Y. However a new third editor is about to take over. Will recommend to Editor 3 that he publishes, but not yet.
6. I initiate contact with Editor 3. Editor 3 seems to know nothing about the paper and says he will get back to me.
7. Editor 3 finds paper. Is interested but: Still keen to publish less of X (my paper) and more of Y. However, paper has to be rewritten and re- refereed, as is no longer in the right format/ style and now all articles have three referees!
8. I withdraw article. Not working in this area anymore.

Fortunately, I have had much better experiences with other editors. Generally editors have acknowledged receipt within a few days and come to a full decision or even published the article within a year/ 18 months.
 
Logged
seniorscholar
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 7,821


« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2006, 11:16:36 am »

My experience as reviewer in English:

(1) As someone else has said, I have no clue how long the essay has been with the journal before I'm asked to review it, and for those journals that do sequential reviews rather than simultaneous reviews, I have no idea how long the first reviewer takes.

(2) The journals almost always ask for reply within one month. If I can't make it, I e-mail saying I have [a research trip, a manuscript being copy-edited that requires some of my time every day, two book manuscripts waiting to be read, the 14 seminar papers and 35 undergraduate papers that will be arriving on April 28 and April 30, or whatever] but that I could read the essay within six weeks. The journal inevitably says "fine" rather than look for another reviewer.

(3) I can get a rejection, with three or four specific reasons, out within a day of receiving the manuscript if it's really impossible. I can get an acceptance out within a week, if I have the reading time, including a few small things that need to be checked or rethought. If it's a "revise and resubmit" it may take my at least a week to write the evaluation (after the reading time) -- that doesn't mean I work all day for a week, but that the thinking time, and the checking some sources time, and the "keep this and let it cool off to see how it sounds time" make me delay -- thus a r&r often takes me right up to the deadline.

Logged
science_expat
Science Expat. Just pretending to be a somewhat
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 6,228


« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2006, 1:59:27 pm »

As someone in physical science, the mathematics example from the OP seems very slow to me.
Logged

"Continue to speak truth to power and try to provoke evidence-based debate and decision-making. The holders of power will not like it and your career trajectory will not rise as high as you wish, but you will retain your professional integrity and the respect of those people whom you also respect."
wikiprofessor
New member
*
Posts: 8


« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2006, 3:13:25 pm »

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this discussion so far.

Hopefully, there will be some more contributions giving us an idea of how things work in various other disciplines.

Science expat: Can you please give us an idea of the timeline and process in the physical sciences, as you say things work faster in your field?

It  would be great if we could identify some distinct procedures that lead to a quicker review process. So far, it seems to me from the posts that individual altruism and field-specific norms of individual behavior are major factors in the efficiency of the review process. I have not been able to identify any specific set of rules or procedures that can make the process more efficient.

Any thoughts?

« Last Edit: October 30, 2006, 3:14:16 pm by wikiprofessor » Logged
scienceguy
Distinguished Senior
Member
***
Posts: 224


« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2006, 4:24:09 pm »

In my field (chemistry), this seems to vary significantly from publisher to publisher.

I've had papers take 2 months from submission to decision.

I've also had papers take 12 months and go through three rounds of review/resubmission.

This is excluding, of course, "rapid publication" journals that specialize in communications as opposed to full-length papers.

I have noticed, however, that the nonprofit publishers (American Chemical Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, American Physical Society) tend to be faster than their for-profit counterparts. The Elsevier journals, in particular, tend to be especially slow.
Logged
science_expat
Science Expat. Just pretending to be a somewhat
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 6,228


« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2006, 4:27:15 pm »

Electronic submission, out to AE within day or two. If AE doesn't accept within 1 week, out to alternative AE.

AE assigns list of potential reviewers who are contacted by editors assistants. Again, 1 week to respond, then second request, then contact next person on list.

Reviewers given 28 days, sent reminder 2-3 days before review due. Second reminder after late for 1 week, third after 2 weeks late, then AE sends personal message. AE has authority to go ahead on only 1 review if other reviewer disappears.

On receiving review, AE technically has 28 days to make recommendation but generally does so in 2 weeks or less. Editor's decision always less than a week, usually agrees with AE's recommendation.

(This is a non-profit. I've heard that Elsevier is really struggling for reviewers as more and more scientists boycott their journals.)
Logged

"Continue to speak truth to power and try to provoke evidence-based debate and decision-making. The holders of power will not like it and your career trajectory will not rise as high as you wish, but you will retain your professional integrity and the respect of those people whom you also respect."
flyguy
I can't believe they let me be a
Senior member
****
Posts: 569

Proving once again quantity rules over quality


« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2006, 6:13:33 pm »

(This is a non-profit. I've heard that Elsevier is really struggling for reviewers as more and more scientists boycott their journals.)

Across the board or just your area?  Please explain.
Logged

"I don't accessorize. I'm Howard Moon. There's a simple truth to me."    Howard Moon
science_expat
Science Expat. Just pretending to be a somewhat
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 6,228


« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2006, 6:23:50 pm »

(This is a non-profit. I've heard that Elsevier is really struggling for reviewers as more and more scientists boycott their journals.)

Across the board or just your area?  Please explain.

Actually in math. There was an article (maybe in CHE?) a week or two ago about an entire board of editors resigning because of high journal prices. As I recall, the article also talked about problems with securing reviewers.

A few years ago we were approached by Elsevier about doing a special issue based on a conference session. The overwhelming response of our potential authors was that they thought a special issue was great but "no Elsevier for us". So, we published (the fully peer reviewed) issue through a better quality non-profit.

I'm presently reading a manuscript for colleagues who are trying to choose between an Elsevier journal and an independent one. It's their decision but my recommendation is clear. I'm also not certain what I will do the next time I'm asked to review for Elsevier but I suspect that I will decline.
Logged

"Continue to speak truth to power and try to provoke evidence-based debate and decision-making. The holders of power will not like it and your career trajectory will not rise as high as you wish, but you will retain your professional integrity and the respect of those people whom you also respect."
psychle
Senior member
****
Posts: 565


« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2006, 9:08:55 pm »

Actually in math. There was an article (maybe in CHE?) a week or two ago about an entire board of editors resigning because of high journal prices. As I recall, the article also talked about problems with securing reviewers.

I read that article, too. Here's a link to it:

http://chronicle.com/daily/2006/10/2006102701n.htm
Logged
shamu
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,953


« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2006, 12:42:32 am »

In a science-based area, the quickest acceptance was about a week; appeared in print in 3 months or so. The slowest was a cross-disciplinary journal that did the first round after about 6 months, accepted in the next round (about 3 months after that), and printed it about 2 years after the official acceptance letter. Granted, they had a backlog and some editorial issues. On average, initial reviews (R&R or accept with revision) tend to come in 3 months. Consecutive rounds come faster (often within a month or two).

From the editorial end, I turn papers around in about 3 weeks (shortest was 5 days, longest was about 6 weeks).

In my experience, there is at least as much within-field variability as between-field variability. Perhaps it may be useful to consider the factors that affect the process for each journal.
1. How established a journal is.
2. Significance of immediacy of the information (e.g., if the info is obsolete in 6 months, turn-around time will tend to be faster).
3. Journal prestige and resources (often related to 1).
4. Budget cuts or increases for the journal.
5. Sorry to say, but name of the author(s).
6. Attractiveness of the topic.
7. Editor (and AE) biases (theoretical or other).
8. Editor's skills to get the reviews in a timely manner.
9. Availability and promptness of the reviewers.
10. Timing (papers received during "crunch times" such as the beginning of the semester tend to be subjected to a longer review process).
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.9 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
  • 1255 Twenty-Third St., N.W.
  • Washington, D.C. 20037
subscribe today

Get the insight you need for success in academe.