The correlation between editorial delay and the ratio of highly cited papers in Nature, Science and Physical Review Letters


Ideally, in a reviewing process, it is generally easier for referees to make faster and more reliable decisions for high quality papers, which ideally and on average will later attract more citations. Therefore, it is possible that the editorial delay time—the time between dates of submission and acceptance or publication—is correlated to the number of received citations, as has been weakly confirmed by previous studies. In this study, we propose a different measure for this correlation. Instead of directly calculating the correlation coefficient between the editorial delay and the number of citations, we define a ratio of above median highly cited papers and perform correlation analysis between editorial delay and that ratio for all academic papers published in Nature, Science and Physical Review Letters. Using this alternative measure, we find that on average papers with shorter editorial delay do have larger probabilities of becoming highly cited papers.

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This work was supported by NSFC under Grant Nos. 61374175 and 10875086. We are very grateful to the reviewers for helpful suggestions.

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Correspondence to Zhenquan Lin.

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Lin, Z., Hou, S. & Wu, J. The correlation between editorial delay and the ratio of highly cited papers in Nature, Science and Physical Review Letters . Scientometrics 107, 1457–1464 (2016).

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  • Editorial delay
  • Received citations
  • Highly cited papers