Q: How long should I wait if my manuscript is still in internal review after six months?

Detailed Question -

I submitted a case report to a journal on 28 November, 2019. It has been more than six months since submission. On inquiry, they replied that the article is in internal review. But the status of the article still shows editorial review. I have written to the editor and also placed general queries a few times, but there has been no response or change in the status. How long should I wait?? Also, what is the process to withdraw the article in such a situation?

1 Answer to this question

Hello Saswati – Welcome to the forum! And let’s straight away get to your query. :-)

Six months is a bit long, but with some journals, the overall process can even take up to a year, if not longer. :-/ However, the cause for worry in your case could be that it’s still in internal/editorial review. (Incidentally, both mean the same thing.) This means that they have not been able to identify even an associate/handling/internal editor (AE) to review your manuscript.

This could be due to some challenges with the journal. (You could look up the net to see if there is some news or information on changes/challenges of some sort at this journal/publisher.) It could also have been due to the COVID19 crisis – the timing (of six months) seems to coincide with the global timeline since the crisis began. However, we are seeing that journals have been gradually able to adapt and deal with the ‘new normal.’ So, you could consider waiting a bit longer.

But then, there is the other worrying aspect – of no response from the journal. Again, it might help to search on the net for some info about the journal. Again too, maybe wait a month or so more. If you still don’t hear from them or don’t see any status update by then, you can proceed to withdraw.

For dos and don’ts on withdrawing, you may go through the points in this previous query by another researcher: Should I withdraw my paper if the journal is taking unusually long to process?

For other points and determining next steps, you may go through this very recent query that is almost the same as your situation (we responded to them right before your question): Should I withdraw the manuscript if it has been 'Under Review' for nine months?

Hope that helps. All the best for your next steps!

To know more about journal statuses and decision-making, you may also find the following resources helpful: