We get a considerable amount of questions, where the asker submitted a paper to some journal and gets impatient because it appears to be stuck at a some stage:

(Note that this selection is probably above average in quality. I remember many bad questions of this kind which I fail to find, be it because they were deleted, badly written or downvoted into oblivion.)

Most of these questions are not duplicates of each other, because they differ in detail. Yet there is a lot of overlap between the answers, which could be covered in a canonical question and answer. It could cover such basics as:

  • How do I find out whether this is normal or not?
  • How do I decide when to act?
  • How should I act?

This would have the following advantage:

  • Basic questions of this type where we can answer nothing but general advice can be closed as a duplicate of the canonical question. This avoids us reïterating the same advice again and again and is more helpful to the asker. Some askers may even find this question before asking and get help immediately.

  • Questions that are about a special, interesting situation can focus on this. We can refer the asker to the canonical Q&A to cover the basic information.

  • Typical comments can be avoided or at least reduced by asking the asker to read the canonical Q&A first and editing their question accordingly. Such comments include:

    • What is your field?

    • Wait at least half a year.

      (which is bad guidance in some fields with quicker review processes)

    • The typical replies to such comments.

Thus, I am proposing to create such a canonical question and answer. If you think that an existing question is already suitable for this purpose, please suggest it.

This is a , i.e., you can indicate approval or opposition by voting on the question.


I think that a canonical Q&A should refer to the field.

From what I have seen the amount of time the review process takes can vary widely between fields. Astronomy and Astrophysics papers (from personal experience as well as speaking with others) can make the transition from submission to acceptance (without revision) within a few weeks, but quite commonly from submission through the review process, submitting revisions and then acceptance for publication usually within only a few months. But this is the exception as other fields can take months upon months. I have colleagues who work in marine sciences - underwater acoustics, current modelling, hydrodynamics, etc. - and in biological sciences who are quite happy if they get a paper to publication in under a year.

Of course, long review process times are a separate issue to lack of response from editors.

  • 1
    This will be the essence of the answer to “How do I find out whether this is normal or not?”: First find out what is normal for this field/subfield/journal. Most experienced users here are aware that review times vary considerably across fields and even subfields. Askers and inexperienced users not being aware is one source of problems with the questions in question as it leads to unanswerable questions (because we cannot know what is long in the asker’s field) and potentially misleading comments or answers (“wait at least half a year”). – Wrzlprmft Apr 2 '17 at 15:17

I created a question as proposed:
Is my paper under review for too long and if yes, how should I react?

(I just forgot to post it here.)

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