ask a scatterbrain: unresponsive editor

A reader writes:

I have an outstanding R&R at Journal X. I submitted my last set of revisions in March and I have since sent three inquiries about the paper’s status and received no response to any of them. Is there anyone else to contact when an editor is unresponsive? Do I have any recourse other than pulling my paper to submit it elsewhere?

7 thoughts on “ask a scatterbrain: unresponsive editor”

  1. Wow. That’s terrible! My only suggestion would be to email the managing editor (not the academic who is the “editor” — but the person responsible for managing the nuts and bolts of the journal). But yeah… at some point you have to move on. And I think by now (with three unanswered emails!) you’ve earned that right. I would send a final email telling the journal you’re doing that, should you decide to go in that direction.

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  2. I respectfully disagree. Pick up the telephone. Talk to the managing editor and if you don’t get a clear answer, then call the actual academic editor. I do not trust email to never run afoul of an overactive spam filter somewhere. Talk directly to a real person. Minutes are cheap.

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  3. I agree. Phone. Politely, but phone. Journals are small operations run by real human beings who get behind in their work and make mistakes.

    Note that the most likely situation is some laggard reviewer hasn’t submitted a review and the editor’s follow-ups to the reviewer are going unanswered. But they can tell you that.

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  4. If the journal says “don’t inquire until it has been 6 months” then you should do that, but unanswered emails are a little odd, and one likely hypothesis is that the person you are emailing has quit. Again, a polite inquiry: what is the status of my article? is entirely appropriate IMO, while any kind of angry rant or huffy complaint is not.

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  5. Although obviously the world doesn’t revolve around us, long turn-around times can really hurt grad students. If the decision is a rejection, grad students have to turn that paper around as quickly as possible to get it somewhere else and maximize chances in this abysmal job market.

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