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!

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ 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

1 Answer 1


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.

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

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.