Q: How long does the initial editorial process take?
I received an email from the Elsevier Editor-in-Chief (EiC) stating that he has transferred my paper to the Associate Editor (AE) and that the first round of the editorial process may take up to three months. What does this mean? I am surprised. Isn't three months too long for the editorial process?
The first round of the editorial process means that the AE reviews the paper for a match with the journal’s scope, adherence to the journal’s guidelines, the novelty of the research, and the quality of the writing. As the EiC has had an initial look, the paper in all probability matches the journal’s scope. However, the AE will check for this again, and in some cases, may suggest that the paper be submitted to a sister journal with a better scope match.
Three months does seem long for these activities. But this could be due to the following reasons.
- Elsevier is a highly regarded publisher, receiving a large number of submissions. An Elsevier AE is likely to have a long line of manuscripts to go through, each at various stages of the publication process.
- The editorial process here may include the time involved in looking for peer reviewers.
- The estimated time may have also taken into account the Easter holidays a month from now, with some resources probably being unavailable during and immediately before and after that.
If needed, you could respond to the mail you received, seeking to better understand the timeline and process. It would be a reasonable request, and the editor is likely to address your query.
Until then, you may also find the following resources helpful:
- Behind the scenes: A journal editor's insight into what happens post manuscript submission
- Behind the scenes: How a journal editor reaches a decision on a manuscript after peer review
- What are the first things journal editors look at in a submission package?
- Keep calm and wait: A guide to understanding journal statuses [Handbook]