Q: Is it a bad time to submit a manuscript in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic?
I’m not sure, but I feel that the number of manuscript submissions has sharply increased, even to journals whose scope is not related to COVID-19. In such a situation, the journal workflow must have slowed down. Accordingly, the rate of acceptance must have decreased. Is it better to wait to submit instead of proceeding with submission right now?
Your question and concern are very relevant. Here is our assessment of the situation.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, publication workflows were impacted initially, especially after various countries moved into different states of lockdown. With people having to work from home, it took a while for them/us to adjust to this ‘new normal.’ However, after about six months of the crisis overall, the curve is flattening or has flattened in several countries (especially the ones initially impacted the greatest, including Japan), lockdown norms are slowly being relaxed, and people have gotten used to working quite productively from home.
Yes, COVID-19 manuscript submissions have been the greatest during this period, but based on the queries received in this forum itself, submissions in other areas are continuing to happen. Both researchers and journals are managing to keep up a healthy pace.
Coming specifically to your query, you would know that acceptance does not depend on the rate or number of submissions (at least not for quality journals), but on the quality of the manuscript. So, if you believe your manuscript is good, you should go ahead and submit and not wait. The only reason to hold on should be if you feel you could improve your manuscript some more, but even then, you shouldn’t wait very long, because a manuscript can always be improved – even after it is published. :-)
In fact, there might be a risk if you wait – someone else might submit a similar paper, and your research might get ‘scooped.’ Also, the earlier you start the submission stage, the earlier you can start the subsequent stages, as the case may be.
Hope that helps. All the best with however you decide to proceed!
Based on the various points discussed above, you may find it worthwhile to go through the following resources: