John Turri, a very accomplished philosopher, has self-reported data here on the publishing process for 49 papers he has published. Since many readers of the Cocoon are early-career people still learning the ropes of the publishing world, Turri's data should be of interest. Here's his own summary of what he found:
- In order for a paper to be accepted, on average, I had to submit it to 3.49 (minimum 1, maximum 10) different journals and revise-and-resubmit it 0.94 times (minimum 0, maximum 3). Thus, each acceptance required an average of approximately 4.5 (re-)submissions (SD = 2.3, Median = 4, Mode = 3, minimum = 1, maximum = 10). The per-journal acceptance rate was about 29% (1/3.49).
- During this same time, on average it took approximately 3 months to get a decision on a submission (collapsing across initial submissions and revisions). Thus, on average, it took nearly 14 months (4.5*3) to shepherd a paper from initial submission to acceptance. The minimum time was a couple days, and the maximum time was 4.5 years. (No, “4.5 years” is not a typo.)
- Ten papers (~20%) were accepted at the first journal submitted to. Eleven papers (~22%) were accepted at the second journal . Seven papers (~14%) were accepted at the third journal. Eight papers (~16%) were accepted at the fourth journal. Thirteen papers (~27%) were accepted at the fifth or later journal.
- Based on available information — which is incomplete — the overall acceptance rate at the majority of the journals involved was between 3% and 15%.
The takeway? Be persistent! (I can attest to this myself. One of my papers I'm most proud of bounced around at well over a dozen journals before finding a home).