Quarterly data on how long it takes to get a decision and be published with eLife

A new Journal Metrics section in eLife’s author guide provides authors with more information on our processing times.
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Transparency is an important part of our review process: the reviewers discuss their independent reviews openly with one another to inform decisions after peer review, we publish the most substantive comments from the decision letter after review and the authors’ responses, and we publish the reviewer names where they agree.

We are now pleased to be able to provide authors and readers with more information about our submission volumes and processing times, on the Journal Metrics section of the author guide. In addition to the median times to initial decision, decision after peer review, and from submission to acceptance, which we have listed in the past on a yearly basis, we have now published graphs showing trends over time. Our priority is to deliver feedback promptly, and we want to be transparent about the times to decision and publication at eLife.

As below, the new Journal Metrics section displays the number of submissions and publications each quarter, the average time to the first decision, the average time to the decision after peer review, and the average time from submission to publication. For the graphs presenting processing times, we show the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles.

Submission to publication times overtime

Figure 1. Number of days between receiving the initial submission and publication (25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles). Learn more in the new Journal Metrics section of our author guide.

We include the various forms of research paper: Research Articles, Short Reports, Tools and Resources, Research Advances. Registered Reports, as part of the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology, are also included.

Between July and September 2016, we received 2010 submissions and we published 244 research papers. The median time to first decision was four days in the first two quarters of 2016, having been slower in the last quarter of 2015 (where decision times tend to be affected by absences over the Christmas holidays). In the second quarter of 2016, the median time to decision after peer review was 31 days, with 75% of authors receiving the decision within 41 days. Factors that affect these times include the availability of the most appropriate Senior Editors and Reviewing Editors, and the ease of finding appropriate peer reviewers.

The time from submission to publication was reduced in the second and third quarters of 2014 as a result of the introduction of an option of having the accepted version of the paper published rapidly as a PDF (see “ Coming soon to a screen near you”), although the average time to publication has increased since then as volumes have increased. The time from acceptance to publication may be a day on average when authors choose to have the accepted manuscript PDF published, or 30+ days if the authors prefer to wait for the typeset, author-proofed version.

The time from submission to publication includes:

  • Time to first decision
  • Time to prepare the authors’ full submission
  • Time to the decision after peer review
  • Revision time
  • Evaluation period once the revised paper has been submitted, and
  • Time from acceptance to publication.

We will update the graphs on the author guide each quarter, and hope that this information will be of interest to authors, readers, and other journals.