Q: Could COVID-19 be affecting how long my manuscript remains in the 'Decision in Process' status?

Detailed Question -

I submitted a manuscript to an Elsevier journal, and the status changed to ‘Under Review’ in two days and to ‘Decision in Process’ in three weeks. After that, there has been no progress for about one month. How long should I wait now? I have even waited for one or two months in the past, but that was in the case of a resubmission and not an original submission. I want to inquire about the current status of my manuscript, but should I refrain from inquiring as we are now in under the crisis of COVID-19?

1 Answer to this question

That’s a very relevant question. The COVID-19 crisis has affected how journals are processing manuscripts presently. Submissions related to COVID-19 are being processed faster, due to the urgency of the situation, as you can read here. However, the fall-out of this could be that manuscripts in other areas may be getting somewhat less priority. Additionally, many professionals from across the world are presently working from home, dealing with attendant challenges such as bandwidth issues; space and privacy; and care of children, elders, and animal companions. This is potentially impacting timelines. Finally, a quality journal such as Elsevier’s may have additional pressures as they are receiving a lot of manuscripts related to COVID-19 around this time.

Still, journals are doing their best to manage workflows. Which seems to have been the case with your manuscript initially. It progressed to ‘Under Review’ and ‘Decision in Process’ relatively quickly, but has been stuck at the decision-making stage for a while now. This perhaps means that the Editor-in-Chief (EiC) hasn’t yet made a decision on the manuscript, possibly due to some of the COVID-19-related challenges we just discussed.

However, it’s great that you have expressed so much consideration, in saying that you are hesitant about checking the status with them. But you needn't be apologetic about it. A fair amount of time has passed, and it’s perfectly valid that you are keen to know the fate of your manuscript, so that you know how to proceed.

So, you could drop in a mail to the journal requesting an update. If needed, to be both courteous and considerate (which you already seem to have been), you could also check how they are managing and coping in the crisis. I am sure they will appreciate such a gesture in these challenging times.

All the best for the next actions!

In case you wish to know more about the impact of COVID-19 on researchers and publications, along with ways in which other researchers have been dealing with the situation, you may check out our collection of pieces under COVID-19 here.

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