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More than 6 months ago I submitted a paper to a very prestigious journal in Mathematics. Honestly I did not expect it to make it past the managing editor, I thought to give it a try, and then submit to a journal in my field. Surprisingly for me it was assigned a manuscript number, and no news since. I am assuming it went to a reviewer.

Is it appropriate to inquire about the status of the paper, even though their online system clearly says that the submission is being processed? I don't want to look like a doofus that cannot read a website. The paper is rather short, under 15 pages, so while I understand that a rejection is likely, I perhaps expected a quick rejection so I can submit it elsewhere. At this stage, if a rejection is forthcoming, will I at least have a referee's report with, perhaps, helpful suggestions and comments?

Grateful for your advice!

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    $\begingroup$ 6 months seems pretty early to be asking, especially for a top journal with multiple referees. I usually ask at the one year mark. Think about how long it takes you to referee a paper. Then add time for people who might be slower or busier, plus the time it takes the paper to reach the editor, the time it takes the editor to find a referee, etc. $\endgroup$ Apr 4, 2018 at 22:32
  • $\begingroup$ Before making an inquiry, check if the journal has something about that on their web page. An increasing number of journals have a statement in the instructions for authors about how long you should wait before asking, and you should obey that guideline. $\endgroup$ Apr 5, 2018 at 0:21
  • $\begingroup$ @BrendanMcKay Unless that guideline is outright ridiculous, in which case disobeying it sends the right message to the editors. But 6 months is, unfortunately, not "a long time" anymore, rather an almost universal lower bound, so I agree that most likely no action will help much at this moment: at best the result will be a polite exchange of the type "How is my paper? It is being processed". However after 1 year (perhaps, 1.5 years for Acta) I would inquire no matter what the guidelines say. $\endgroup$
    – fedja
    Apr 5, 2018 at 1:34
  • $\begingroup$ @fedja Six months and one year are the most common time periods I've noticed. $\endgroup$ Apr 5, 2018 at 8:35

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It is perfectly okay to ask about the status of the paper. It often happens that referees and editors forget about their assignments and a reminder call is a right thing to do. You could ask the editor, but then be patient. It often takes about a year to get the reports. If this is a really prestigious journal, it is likely that the paper was sent to more than one referee and you will not hear from the editors until all the reports are in.

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  • $\begingroup$ I appreciate everyone's help. I will wait a couple more months before inquiring. $\endgroup$
    – Rookie
    Apr 5, 2018 at 19:15

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