Q: What should I do to have the journal make progress on my review?

Detailed Question -

I had submitted a manuscript to the Elsevier journal Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology. However, the status has not changed from In Review for 10 months. So far, I have contacted the journal office twice by email (once in the fourth month since submission and then in the eighth month since) to ask them about the progress on the review. However, it hasn’t worked; I haven’t even received a response. What should I do to have them hasten the review? Also, please let me know if there is any organization where I can report this issue and that gives advice to journals.

1 Answer to this question

Yes, this sounds frustrating to note, both the delay in the review and the lack of response. So, let’s get to your queries straight away.

What can you do to hasten the review?

As the journal hasn’t responded to you and the status hasn’t changed, it’s not clear what the delay is due to. We had a look at the journal site to see whether articles are continuing to be published, and it seems they are. So, while you could of course try contacting them again using other mediums (as also suggested in the second answer below), another thing you could try is to find out how long it has taken some of the other papers for review. This is usually possible for the author to do for many journals. However, this is a transformative journal from Elsevier, that is, it is presently mostly a subscription-based journal but seeking to become open access (OA). So, you may not have this visibility. In that case, you could look up some author names from other papers; try finding them on Google, Google Scholar, ORCID, and so on, to obtain their contact details; and then write to them about the same. This will give you an idea whether reviews have been taking long with this journal in recent times. As the scope of this journal seems quite focused, we believe some or even many of the authors should be familiar with one another. So, you may be able to connect with a few.

Is there any organization that you can write to and that gives advice to journals?

There are industry bodies and groups in scholarly publishing, but most look into more ‘serious’ / ‘macro’ matters such as ethics, peer review, and OA. Also, delays are often due to internal (journal) challenges, and in recent times, have also been due to the global challenge of the pandemic, although that’s slowly getting behind us. Your best bet may actually be writing to Elsevier but through another channel, their support center. Right at the bottom of their support center page, they have provided several options for contacting them, such as email, chat, and callback. In case you have tried only one, you may try the others.

We have suggested you retry because as this is an Elsevier journal, you would no doubt be keen to have your article published here. However, if there is really no response from them, we would also suggest withdrawing from here and submitting elsewhere. If you decide to do so, you will have to inform the journal of the withdrawal and only then submit elsewhere. In case you don’t hear from them even then, you can write them a final mail stating that you are considering the article withdrawn. (For more on withdrawal, you may refer to the two queries at the end of this response.) Ensure you have all these mails saved, because you’ll probably need them to share with the next journal you choose to submit to. And of course, you may need to update your manuscript a bit as it would have been at least eight months since you wrote it and some things may have changed in your field.

Hope all that helps. All the best for the next actions on your manuscript!

Previous questions (by other researchers) on manuscript withdrawal for your reference: