Random Reflections on Getting Published
Kirsten Bell, associate editor for Critical Public Health, spills the beans on what it takes to get published, including strategic submission dates, how to challenge an editorial decision, and doing your part as a reviewer. Here’s an excerpt:
It’s my belief that when you submit your paper affects how long the review process takes—and, potentially, whether your paper is accepted. Here’s why. You know how you try to get a bunch of stuff done before you go on holiday so you don’t have to do any work over the break? Well, guess what? Thousands of other academics do that too! As a result, there tends to be a glut of submissions in November (and May, to a lesser extent) and an even smaller pool of reviewers than usual willing to review them. Would you agree to a review invitation you received on December 5th?
What this means is that: a) your paper is likely to sit for longer than normal before it’s sent out for review; b) it’s likely to be sent to a lot more people before two (or three or however many reviewers is standard for the journal) accept the invitation; and c) the reviewers themselves, assuming some are actually found, may not be the ideal candidates, since presumably the most suitable ones would have been approached first. This last factor, in particular, is instrumental to the fate of your paper. So if you can, I’d avoid submitting to journals during these busy periods, even if it for most of us it goes against the grain to sit on a manuscript you feel is ready for submission.