Q: What do I do now that the editor's commitment to a decision date is a month overdue?

Detailed Question -

I submitted a manuscript 4.5 months ago. The status kept on changing between ‘Awaiting Reviewer Assignment’ and ‘Awaiting Reviewer Scores’ for three months, at which point I contacted the editor and requested a projected timeline for the evaluation process. She informed me that one reviewer had returned their review and the other review was pending with a deadline within that week, and promised to proceed to the decision quickly after receiving it. That was over a month ago, but the status is still ‘Awaiting Reviewer Scores.’ What do I do?

1 Answer to this question

It’s great that you are keeping such a close tab on your manuscript. You are obviously keen to know the decision on your manuscript and are no doubt hoping that the decision is positive.

As you may know or have come to understand, ‘Awaiting Reviewer Scores’ means that the manuscript has been sent for peer review to the required number of reviewers (usually two or three, but two in your case) and that the review(s) is/are still awaited from one/some reviewer(s). As the pending review is now a month overdue, there is apparently some challenge on the part of the second reviewer. It may be a standard one, such as being busy with their own projects and other reviews, or it may be a challenge of the moment, necessitated by the COVID-19 crisis and its fallouts, causing extensive changes and challenges in people’s lives and work. In such a situation, it would help to be a bit patient. However, I also understand that there may be an academic dependency for the decision on the paper.

In either case, it would be a fair ask to check in again with the editor. You could share the reason for your eagerness or concern, as the case may be. You could also ask her if there’s anything you could do to help expedite the review (such as, if needed, suggesting a peer reviewer who could take up the review in case the journal’s reviewer hasn’t begun their review). Along the same lines, you could consult with her on what you could do if the review and/or decision is/are likely to take much longer and there is a need for your paper to be published as soon as possible. While she has said that she would work toward a quick decision as soon as the second review is in, in case she suggests eventually withdrawing the paper, you may consider submitting it to a rapid publication journal in your field, to make up for the time consumed.

All the best for the next steps!

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