Q: How long does it take for the status to change from "Reviews Completed" to "Final Decision by the Editor"?

Detailed Question -

The status of my manuscript changed to ‘Reviews Completed’ more than three months ago, but it has not been updated yet. I inquired with the editor, but he did not respond to it. I do not have experience in this. Is there anybody who can let me know about the probable reasons for this?

Note: The paper was submitted in 2016 and the reviewers’ comments were received in 2018. When I resubmitted the corrected version, it received a new reference number. However, it still did not receive a final decision. Presently, it has been about four years and I am still waiting for the final decision.

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Answer:

While the publication process – from submission to final decision and perhaps acceptance and then actual publication – with a quality journal can take several months, four years is a very long time. There seems to be some issue (or multiple issues) on the journal’s side, evident from the long time for the peer reviews, the delay in or lack of response to your mails, and also the change in manuscript ID (or reference number, as you have called it). In fact, the last is the most odd, as the manuscript ID should typically not change.

As you have waited so long and the reviews for your revision have been completed, you could wait for some more time to know the next status. However, if that takes too long – let’s say, over a month – I would suggest withdrawing the manuscript and submitting to another journal.

If you decide to withdraw the manuscript, you will need to inform the journal about this. (At the end of this response, you will find some resources for how to go about doing this.) The reason you could cite is the inordinate delay in the reviews of the paper. When writing the withdrawal request mail, ensure you quote both manuscript IDs.

For submitting to another journal, you will need to provide them a record of your communication with the present journal. So, save all mails. Additionally, as it has been four years since you first wrote the paper, and although you revised it recently, you may wish to update it to reflect the current understanding and knowledge around the topic.

All the best for the next steps!

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