Why you should never track a journal submission

I still remember when my 2nd MS got accepted. Yes, my second. I honestly don’t remember the first for whatever reason (likely because it was accepted pretty easily as the result of a perfect journal fit). That feeling is amazing and I know I’m not alone in that sentiment. While some tenured profs take it for granted, I know just as many (with a plethora of pubs) who still get excited when they see that “…we are please to accept…” first line in their email. It is that acceptance that makes it all worth it. Of course I love the science and am a strong conservation advocate; however, unless the research is published, nothing comes of it. But that desire for acceptance creates a problem…the waiting.

Maybe I’m alone in this (I doubt it), but when I have a MS in review, I check it’s status constantly. Technology is an amazing thing (I’m currently writing this post on my phone while I sit on my back patio, drinking a beer and listening to NPR coming from speakers in the house). But, it’s also a huge detriment. Online manuscript submission has made the publication process a breeze, but at a price. Many journals allow you to track the status of your MS (e.g., in review, reviews complete, awaiting editorial decision [which is without a doubt the worst]). This is just bad news.

There are two points in the review process where obsessive status-checking occurs. First, that initial stage (e.g., initial checking, waiting editor assignment, initial editor check, etc.). Most of the time this is just a formality (assuming that you picked an appropriate journal). The most taxing part is just waiting for a MS to go out for review. Once that process is initiated, best to just sit back for at least a month.

After about a month I start the checking again. This may seem short, but turnaround times for MSs have been anywhere from about a month to more than four (which is ridiculous). So every day that I check, which thankfully isn’t everyday, I’m looking for “Reviews Complete”. Once I see those magic words, it’s a very slippery slope. For example, I have a MS sitting at a journal that is “Awaiting Editorial Decision”, and has been for a couple weeks. It went through a rather quick review process so I chose not to press the editor; however, at this point it’s getting kind of ridiculous. Another just changed its status to “Reviews Complete”. I’m interested to see if I get that one back before the one that’s been sitting…

And this is my problem. I shouldn’t obsessively check the status of a MS. When a decision is made, I’ll get an email. But, I just can’t help it. And thanks to the online submission process and constant status updates, my obsessive desires are fulfilled.


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