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Towards Transparency in journal turnaround times

David McKenzie's picture

The impetus for this post comes from a couple of recent experiences. First, I got copied on the letter sent to an author containing a decision from the editor from a paper that I had refereed so long ago that I had forgotten even refereeing it. Second, every now and then I have conversations with colleagues about where to send papers, which for most journals rely on anecdotes/sample sizes of a couple of experiences (e.g. what is journal X like for turnaround time – well, the one paper I sent there recently took 10 months to get a report, etc.).

As far as I know, there is no centralized table where you can go and look and see how different journals fare in terms of turnaround time. A few journals (AER, the AEJs, J. Financial Economics) have very nice editors’ reports prominent on their websites which allows you to see turnaround statistics. Our journal Q&As with QJE and WBER have also contained some information on this. But most journals don’t seem to have this information, and even those journals that do contain it don’t have it all in a completely comparable form. I’d like to see a table like this for all journals with all columns filled:

The AEJ-Applied is the only one of the above with data also on second submission turnaround times – which is what I also think separates out the journals a lot – some editors are more prepared to not send papers back to referees on relatively minor revisions, speeding up the process a lot. The AER has a table like this, which I think more journals should publish:

Let us know what other statistics you want, and then maybe we can push for more transparency from journals on some of these key statistics, with the aim of publishing some tables like those above on this blog once a year comparing journals. In the meantime, to help authors in seeing how long journals are giving referees to turn in their reports at different journals, here is a figure based on the deadlines given by journals I have refereed for over the last 6 months or so:

Readers, please add in the comments any info on the time you are given at other economics journals you have refereed for recently – it would be good to expand this through crowd-sourcing. Of course a big issue is whether journals actually pro-actively act to chase up with authors and incentivize these deadlines, but there is a big difference in processing time likely to arise from giving people 28 days vs 84 days to turn in their reports in the first place!


This whole paper publishing sounds like a tedious affair. And then nobody reads the papers anyway. If you have something to say, call the NYT or the WSJ. You'll get published the next weekend.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Good point, but graffiti is even quicker and has more viewers.

Submitted by Anonymous on
The EJ gives 60 days. ReStud also publishes turnaround stats:

I think the most interesting data set to crowdsource would be one which connects this information with your survey work about blogs, traffic, influence and working papers. So how about asking people to document not only how long from submission to publication (with the milestones) but also how many views and comments they had on the working paper version during that interval?

Submitted by Anonymous on
Management Science gives you 5 weeks. At the JEEA the editors (or some of them) state the journals' average turnaround and their (usually lower) personal turnaround time when requesting a referee report.

Submitted by Anonymous on
International Tax and Public Finance : around 45 days Public Choice: around 65 days