Q: Is there any connection between paper quality and review speed?

Detailed Question -

Is there any connection between paper quality and review speed? I submitted two of my papers to two different journals. For both the journals, there were some other colleagues submitting papers their papers around the same time. However, their papers got accepted in a few months, but mine are taking longer. I don't even know the initial decisions as yet. People submitting their paper to journal A got acceptance in one month, and my paper is still under review for 1 months and 10 days. People who submitted to journal B got acceptance in 3 months, and my paper is still under review for more than 4 months! Why are my papers getting delayed for both journals? Does this indicate that there is a problem with the quality of my papers? Or is it just bad luck?

1 Answer to this question

You have raised an interesting question. I don’t think there is any clear correlation between the quality of a paper and the time taken for peer review. Most probably it is just pure coincidence that the peer review time for your papers has been longer. However, if we try to look for a pattern or a reason behind this happening only with your papers, a few possibilities come to my mind:

  • Possibly, the topics of your papers are more niche, and the editor took longer to find reviewers for your papers.
  • Another possibility is that both the journals have assigned at least one common reviewer for both your papers, and this reviewer is rather slow.
  • Regarding the relation between the quality of the paper and the peer review time, I think it is always easier to review the excellent papers or the very bad ones. However, it is the mid-level ones which take longer to review. Such papers have potential, but require a lot of detailed explanation by the reviewers about how they can be improved.

I would also like to point out that the delays in your case have not been unusually long. It is perfectly normal for a peer review to take anywhere between a few weeks to 4-5 months. I don’t think you should worry about this. Once you receive the peer review comments, you will have more clarity on whether there is any specific issue with your writing style.