…always assume that everything will go smoothly once you hit the
CBP receives well over a thousand manuscripts a year to be
reviewed, and our sister journals get large numbers as well. Despite
our best efforts, there are rare cases when stuff just falls through the
cracks, electronic or otherwise. If after a few days you don't get an
acknowledgement that your paper was received (usually providing a
manuscript reference number), email the journal office. After that, if
you don't hear about the status of your paper in six weeks to two
months, contact the journal to nudge the editors. Most journals have
electronic communication with referees, so your paper should have
found suitable referees within a couple of weeks. (Sometimes it just
takes longer to track people down though, due to field seasons, grant
deadlines, some even take holidays; sometimes the opinion of a tiebreaking
referee is required.) Referees usually have a 2–4 week
deadline for completing their report.
…interpret the editor's decision letter too literally.
Unless of course the letter says something like: “all referee reports
said ‘accept as is’, and we have sent your article to be typeset for page
proofs” (don't hold your breath, this has probably happened to us once
in our careers), or “your paper is most definitely rejected”. Usually
there are qualifiers in the decision letter like: “We can only accept your
paper after major revisions” or “Your paper is not acceptable in its
current form. Should you choose to revise your paper….”. These are
generally statements that are leaving the door open for you to revise,
rebut and resubmit.
…take the referee comments too personally.
Most seasoned referees avoid personal language, but sometimes it
slips through (human nature again). Be assured that most editors
don't take such personal language too seriously. Remember, we know
who reviewed your paper, and we can often say “oh, that's referee x,
he/she always has an axe to grind about issue y”.
…needlessly delay in revising and resubmitting your paper.
Unless of course the referees have asked you to gather more data,
or undertake a months' long reanalysis of your data, get on it right
away and strike while the iron is hot. Most journals, including CBP,
have a two-month rule. If you don't resubmit within two months, it is
considered a new submission and it will go out for re-review, unless
you communicate with the editors about an extended deadline. By
turning the manuscript around quickly, you can often avoid re-review
(usually this decision rests with the referee though, as they often have
a box they can tick or not that says “this paper really needs to be rereviewed”
or “I'd like to see a revision please”). Also, while the paper is
still fresh in the referee's mind, you might get a better reception to
Patrick J. Walsh*