I have had a bit of experience these last few years in preparing and submitting articles to journals for publication. There are many factors involved in choosing a journal and I have commented on that in previous posts. One factor, though, is turn-around time. Journals can take anywhere from 2 months (rare) to more than 6 months. I would say to average for me is 3-4 months. Unfortunately, I have had the displeasure of experiencing the six-monthers on more than one occasion. I have heard stories of journals taking up to one year and even more! Wow!
This is bad news for phd students wanting to get a piece out before job-hunting time. Plan ahead!
To Journal editors: Please make it as explicit as possible in your ‘info for contributors’ – give us your best guess at a reasonable time frame. Secondly, be willing (or more willing) to send a reminder to assessors. Finally, keep in contact with the contributor on a regular basis (let’s say, an update after every two months).
I image editors aren’t going to read this, nor care what I think.
To contributors: What can we do? Choose journals that have reliable turn-around times. I recommend NTS and Biblica who both are conscious of keeping the assessment time down. Both aim for, I think, no more than about two months which is extraordinary. I know JTS and JSNT are very time-conscious, but not as low as two months in general. I have not had a good experience (length of time-wise) with NovT or Biblical Interpretation.
Is it OK to send an email after submission inquiring about the progress of an article? I say yes, but…. First, go by any indication they give you about time. So, ‘plan to hear from us in three months’. After that time, I will send an email saying, ‘Any updates….’ etc… If I get no response to the update email, I send a follow up 1-2 weeks later (I think I deserve an answer to an update email within 48 hours!). If there has been a change in staffing or editorship, I give more time (this happened with Expository Times and I was happy to wait longer).
Be aware that sometimes a reminder email is welcome. One journal told me something like, ‘thanks for the email…I had the assessment for some time now and forgot to send it to you…’ (I am grinding my teeth, but you can’t hear it). So, when enough time has elapsed, I say go ahead and ask about the article. Don’t pester, but its hard not to come across as such so be polite in the email (‘I was just wondering…I know you receive a lot of submissions…such an eminent journal requires time for blah blah blah).
I welcome comments on those who can recommend journals that promise or have a good track-record of quick turn-around time.
Good luck to all!