Journal submissions, review and editorial decision patterns during initial COVID-19 restrictions

Food Policy. 2021 Dec;105:102167. doi: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2021.102167. Epub 2021 Oct 6.

Abstract

We use the full administrative records from four leading agricultural economics journals to study the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on manuscript submission, editorial desk rejection and reviewer acceptance rates, and time to editorial decision. We also test for gender differences in these impacts. Manuscript submissions increased sharply and equi-proportionately by gender. Desk rejection rates remained stable, leading to increased demand for reviews. Female reviewers became eight percentage points more likely to decline a review invitation during the early stage of the pandemic. First editorial decisions for papers sent out for peer review occurred significantly faster after pandemic lockdowns began. Overall, the initial effects of the pandemic on journal editorial tasks and review patterns appear relatively modest, despite the increased number of submissions handled by editors and reviewers. We find no evidence in agricultural economics of a generalized disruption to near-term, peer-reviewed publication.

Keywords: COVID-19; Decision time; Gender bias; Publishing; Review response rate; Scholarly journals; Submission rate.