Tuesday, June 26, 2007

March Manuscript Madness

Yesterday I wrote about reviewer statistics for a particular journal. Another part of this journal dataset shows the number of manuscript submissions/month over the past 5 years. Submissions are very constant for 9 of the months, but there is a trough in July and a big spike in March (trailing off only slightly in April).

The summer dip in submissions is not surprising, but if you'd asked me to guess which month would have the trough, I probably would have guessed August. Instead, August has the same number of submissions as September (and October and November etc.), but July is dramatically lower.

And then there's the March spike. Perhaps these are manuscripts that are worked on over the winter holidays but are not quite finished when the new term starts and then completed by March?

9 comments:

Susan B. Anthony said...

Maybe everybody gets real productive over spring break.

James Annan said...

It's people desperately padding out their annual appraisal form.

At least, it is for me :-)

(Of course that depends on people having an April-March cycle.)

gs said...

Maybe spring is the crucial period for salary reviews and job applications.

MKG said...

Was this a condensed matter physics journal? If so, then the APS March meeting could have something to do with it. I imagine there is a huge rush to submit around that time. Either you want to avoid geting scooped after giving your talk, or you realize you're about to get scooped after seeing someone else's.

Anonymous said...

I'm shooting for a july submission ... does that mean the editors will be more forgiving if fewer manuscripts are submitted? :)

Doug Natelson said...

As mkg suggested, there are big national meetings of the APS in both March and April, a national meeting of the ACS in March, and a big MRS meeting in the first week of April. That may have something to do with it.

lhuffman said...

One of the national American Chemical Society meetings is also in March. I know we tried to submit as much as possible before we gave talks there. Could it be related to funding cycles - no grants being due then?

Elli said...

The meeting comment sounds right on. In my field, March is also a big time for proposal deadlines - this year a collaborator and I hustled to get a paper submitted by early March so that we could refer to it as a finished product in our research proposal.

anon said...

Well, my last paper was submitted in march, and it wasn't because we went to the American Chemical Society meeting. It was just as you say actually, we worked on it in January and planned to submit it by the end of the month. Then we collected some more data after we thought we might need some more. And after arguing about if the manuscript is good enough for this 'awesome' journal, and strategically keeping some good results away from the PI (since they would put it in the paper even though we already wrote the damn thing and were out of character space, but there is always supporting info and we're insecure) in order to have something to build on for the next paper, we finally got the damned thing out in March.

It was exactly the same with the previous paper, which we planned to finish at the end of January too, but that one took way too much of back and forth and was sent out in May.

We had the complete data for both papers in December. The end of January submission deadline doesn't work. Also, a lot of big games get released in the middle of summer and end of the year. So, this summer's release of Civilization 4 expansion pack will seriously ruin students' will to submit papers in July/August, just like Halo 2 ruined their will to do research in November/December when it came out, pushing things back until March.