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I think it's best to wait 3 months, and I usually get a response before too long. Sometimes the response is just to keep waiting. I don't think it has hurt me, but who knows?

R&R experience

Right, R&R should be treated as a new submission. Even a very minor R&R that still needs to go through reviews can be like a new submission time-wise, or so I was told by an editor.

anonymous associate professor

I wouldn't contact them before whatever the stated longer end of the projected review time for the journal is (if they have one) or at least four months if they don't. (I also don't think you should contact journals after three months on first submission unless they explicitly have a shorter timeframe listed/advertised. Journal editors and staff are very busy! When people email them at the three month mark, you are just adding another thing to their pile/giving them even more administrative crap to deal with, and are also presumably contributing in some tiny way to slowing down the process for everyone (emails add up!).)

Nicolas Delon

While I agree you abide by what journals advertise, and most editors are doing selfless work that deserves more recognition, I think we should be careful not to reinforce bad social norms. It's true that waiting three/four months is the norm, but is there any no good reason for it to be? A bunch of journals do much better, and a bunch of other disciplines do much better. There's no magic going on there; they're just better at their job. If we keep saying, "wait three/four months" it's normal", we're not encouraging responsible editorial practices. I still have to see a convincing argument for why more journals are not like Ergo or AJP.

Regarding R&Rs specifically, note that some journals will expect you to resubmit within a certain time frame. When the window is relatively tight, I think this should create an expectation of expedited treatment on their part. At least they should do their best to secure the original referees and ask not for a full new review but for a look at whether the revision is acceptable for publication. In some cases (minor revisions, conditional accept), the editor do it themselves, and that seems like a good system.

So, you should not contact editors prematurely and you should always do so very kindly and politely (I apologize profusely whenever I take the liberty of doing so). But you also not feel bad about contacting them after 8 weeks if they advertise 8 weeks from submission. Many delays are caused by the sort of pluralistic ignorance that sustains bad social norms——a critical mass of people think others approve of the extant norm when in fact a critical mass of people disapprove of the norm. Everyone keeps complying instead of implementing the change we all want.

From what I understand though, most delays are caused by the irresponsible behavior of referees. Editors, again, are doing selfless work and do not control referees. But I also think no journal should give referees an 8-week (or more) deadline for submitting a report, and that's something editors (might?) have control over, it seems... That's way more than anybody needs to review a paper and that's eight weeks on top of weeks moving the paper through the initial hoops and contacting referees. When referees then take their sweet time beyond the agreed deadline (and many do by their own admission at least according to Twitter anecdata) is how we get those ridiculous turnaround times for which some journals are well-known. Remember, referees, you don't have to wait until the deadline! (I typically review papers within a few days after accepting an invitation. I owe it to authors and editors. That's the sort of norm we should promote instead of the usual refrain.)


OP here. Thanks for the advice! My instinct was to wait three months, but I was hearing from friends in the sciences that for R&Rs they expect a response in 6-8 weeks, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask.

I will say, I'm a little surprised at the push back about inquiring at all here. I appreciate that editors are busy people, but I rarely have gotten responses in a reasonable time period unless I have inquired, and unlike Marcus, almost all my inquiries have been for submissions that I ended up getting a conditional acceptance or an R&R for (though my publishing experience is admittedly limited).

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