I received an invitation to referee an article today, and am going through the painful process of trying to estimate when I might get it done. I always give editors an estimate of when I can get the paper done before I accept, hoping secretly, of course, that my turnaround time will be unacceptable to them! For this paper, I really cannot get it done until after the new year. If I accept, and the editor lets me delay three months, the paper will spend three months (at least) in my inbox. For those who don’t recognize this phenomenon, it’s called waste. Which got me to thinkin’….
How about a fast-track review process in which the journal requires (or perhaps accepts as an option) a one page abstract to reserve a review three months ahead of time. While the authors are completing the manuscript, the editor would solicit reviewers, who would reserve time on their calendars to review the paper immediately after receipt. Presto!— one week turnaround times!
- If the authors are late, the reservations are cancelled and the paper goes into the standard, painful cycle.
- If the editor suspects the paper won’t be acceptable even for review, he or she can refuse the reservation and insist on the standard full submission.
- Scheduling three months in advance for referees can be a challenge, of course, so editors could reserve more capacity than required (say, three or four referees instead of two) and simply cancel the unneeded reservations. Who wouldn’t like to know he or she doesn’t have to referee a paper?
Am I missing something, or might this just work?