I think my paper might be held prisoner, but I don’t know why or when its sentence will end.
We have this result that’s pretty cute, but our first choice journal returned it without review as not hot enough.
So I thought a bit about where to send it, and since it was written as a letter and honestly should be a letter, I decided to send it to a professional society journal that has a letters section and that has a flavor similar to the original journal.
It’s been a month and nothing, except that someone looked at it at the start of week 3 and changed its title. The status says it’s still with the editors, so it wasn’t sent out for review yet. (For reference, in my field the expectation is that an editor will do something in no more than a week. Occasionally it’s longer, but that’s an exception rather than the rule.) I have sent a couple of email inquiries, and nothing. My last email even said, politely, “$hit or get off the can,” as in, if you don’t want it, fine, let us know so we can go elsewhere. Still nada.
I worked with the assigned editor before while he was at another journal, where I publish often, and he was always slow and very invasive (he’d change titles and make us change font in figures, things like that). I was so happy when he left that journal, because he was a veritable hurdle for my work in a specific area — not even negative, just slow and very anal. Now he’s at this new journal and he definitely hasn’t gotten any faster in responding. The new journal publishes some good papers, but it hasn’t lived up to its promise — I bet people never wanting to send there again, like I’m feeling now, has to do with it. You can’t have a high-impact-factor journal in my field if it takes you a month to even touch a paper.
My student is getting antsy; he wants his paper published, and I understand that. In most other journals, we’d already have the reviews in or would be close to getting them.
At this point, I am inclined for my next communication to simply be a notice of withdrawal. The question is how long to wait. Another week?
What say you, blogosphere? What have you done in the past in the case of nonresponsive editors who seem like a black hole for papers?