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I've never addressed the bottleneck just because it's (I think) something we all face in effectively the same way.

The OP raises the issue that maybe we don't face it in roughly the same maybe - perhaps OP's research is a particularly niche kind of empirically informed, so there's particularly few qualified reviewers, and so forth.

But I've had years when I was doing more regular, less niche empirically informed work, and journals still were sitting on papers for a year plus, working through three slow revisions, and all that sort of thing. Unfortunately the default level of badness is just very bad. Even if some people are somewhat worse off in this arena due to topic, it might not make for an appreciable enough difference.

the facts, ma'am

I think addressing bottlenecks looks desperate. Really, everyone can raise this same concern, and remember that a paper under review, even an R&R, is not a publication. So if a college wants to hire someone and expects them to be published (or publish), papers under review are not strong evidence of publications.
Further, you can see how people will or could lie about this as well. So the safe thing for any hiring committee is to stick to the fact - what has the candidate published?

Trevor Hedberg

Given the commonness of things getting suck in review, I suspect this feature of the candidates research profile might go unnoticed unless the candidate draws attention to it. This reminds me of advice I gave to some prospective graduate students years ago who went to great lengths to explain, for instance, why their C in a chemistry class wasn't a big deal. I advised them to omit that content because I didn't think anything of that fact when I looked through their transcripts, but when they made a big deal of it in their statements, suddenly I thought it might be something of significance. I think the same kind of problem could arise here and that the job candidate might actually make the issue look worse by drawing attention to it.

another postdoc

On the CV I'd list the R&R as an R&R with the journal name but not the date.

I agree with others' advice against addressing the bottleneck.

Conditional on addressing it, I'd advise against framing it mainly in terms of your niche having longer than average review times per submission. In a given area, the impact of longer review times on publication rate could be offset by higher acceptance rates or higher paper writing rates.

Conditional on addressing the bottleneck, I'd also advise against addressing it in terms of area/methodology. In addition to long times to publication being common across the board, I think there's also a lot of variation for that *within* areas. With three papers under review, that makes working in niche X rather than some other area not very explanatory of lack of publications, and it suggests proximal explanations will be more informative. Even if working in X explained lack of publications, I think it'd be hard to reliably convince hiring committees of that (most people on hiring committees will not work in X but will have faced long and varying times to publication in other areas) and that the backfiring risk probably isn't worth it. Even if hiring committees could be convinced that working in X explains lack of publications without risk of backfiring, I don't think that's something you'd in general want to do: insofar as they have reason to think you'll continue to work in X, that'd tend to drive down their expectations for how much you'll publish in the short and medium term relative to other people they could hire who work in other areas or who instead make a positive case for their publication prospects.


A gentle way to address the bottleneck might simply to add submission dates on the CV like so in the work in progress section:
"Nice paper" (R&R at "fancy journal", initial submission 8/1999, resubmitted 10/1999).

That's not overly desperate seeming but still gives the committee the information of how long the paper has been sitting at the journal. I think that could be fine, though not sure how much it would help.

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