Why does it take so long to get my paper refereed?

While most referees are very diligent in taking less than two weeks to review papers, authors often experience a sense of frustration when they have to wait much longer than this to get the first decision and feedback on their paper. It may be useful to explain why it can take months, rather than weeks to get a paper reviewed.

First, the editors have to satisfy themselves that the paper is within the scope of the journal and worthy of sending out for review. This is not an instantaneous task. A paper that passes this initial hurdle, has gone through a positive and meaningful step in the process. Normally, this takes less than a week, but the flow of submitted papers is quite lumpy and sometimes a backlog can occur, especially at certain times in the year.

Next, the time needed to find reviewers can be considerable. If someone does not respond to our request immediately, we send reminders at intervals. There are many reasons why people do not reply immediately; perhaps because they are travelling, on sick leave, on vacation or just snowed under with other work. There may come a point when we acknowledge that a response is not going to be forthcoming, or someone might simply tell us that they cannot fit this task in to their schedule. In either case we then need to begin the process with someone else. This is what takes most of the time. On top of that, not all reviewers complete their review in two weeks. Some take longer, and sometimes with good reason. Rather than start again with yet more fresh requests, we typically wait when someone asks for more time, as long as it is not unreasonable.

So, even though it might seem strange to have to wait a few months for a process that appears to take a couple of weeks, please be patient with us. We work hard on behalf of authors in our attempts to get papers reviewed as quickly as possible. But if you are any doubt, or worried about the progress of your paper, do not hesitate to write and ask what is happening. We shall always respond to enquiries from submitting authors about the progress of their papers.

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About Will

Professor of Construction Management and Economics, University of Reading, UK. Editor-in-Chief, Construction Management and Economics (1992-2016). Programme Director, MSc Construction Management. School Director of Postgraduate Teaching Programmes.
This entry was posted in Editorial policies, Refereeing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why does it take so long to get my paper refereed?

  1. Pingback: Authors’ Charter | Construction Management and Economics

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