Beware submitting your article on a weekend!

Published by Info @conpher on

Why do sales and marketing emails always land in our inbox at certain times? The conpher team were casually discussing this last week, and of course there is a science behind it – just google the question “What’s the best time to send email?” and read the 0.9 billion results….. But does the theory translate to “when is the best time to submit an article?”

The conpher team are scattered around the world and observe different “weekends” and holidays, but for the sake of our discussion below, we refer to the Saturday/Sunday weekend variety.

Without exception, the conpher team all use weekends and holidays to prepare articles for submission. We can get that quiet time, without guilt of the Monday to Friday procession. But if we finish that article on a Saturday morning or on New Year’s Day, should we press submit immediately?

Is there really an optimum day of the week to submit our articles that will increase our chances of acceptance?

One of our team previously worked for a number of academic publishers and commented on the fact that submissions would arrive 365 days of the year, even spiking on days you would least expect like national or religious holidays. So, we thought we would look into this, to see if we could bring you any advice on when the best day is to submit your article!

We have pulled up 3 prominent research groups who have analysed and published articles on this very topic.

In 2016 Marcel Ausloos published: Day of the week effect in paper submission/acceptance/rejection to/in/by peer review journals. Marcel and his colleagues reported on their examination of the relationship between the days of submission and acceptance of 596 papers published by the Serbian Chemical Society in 2013-14.  These investigators found a Tuesday-Wednesday effect.  Most papers were submitted on a Tuesday, but a higher proportion of the ones submitted on a Wednesday were accepted.  And Ausloos et al also found that the greatest proportion of rejected manuscripts were submitted on a Saturday or a Sunday.

In 2017 James Hartley and Guillaume Cabanac published: What can new technology tell us about the reviewing process for journal submissions in BJET ?

The results of their examination into the electronic records for over 11,000 manuscripts submitted to the British Journal of Educational Technology (BJET) between 2005 and 2014.  They assessed the dates of the original submissions, the dates that selected papers were sent to the referees, the dates that the referees returned their reports with their recommendations (e.g., Accept, Minor revisions, Major revisions, Revise and resubmit, and Reject) and – if appropriate – the dates of resubmissions and revised manuscripts.  Inadvertently, of course, this data also disclosed the days of the week when these operations were carried out.

Their results showed that the number of submissions, either initial or revised, declined steadily throughout the week, with Monday being the most frequent (18%) and Saturdays and Sundays the least frequent (7 and 9%). 

Day of the week submission effect for accepted papers in Physica A, PLOS ONE, Nature and Cell

In 2018 Boja et al examined the days of the week for the submissions of 178,427 accepted papers to the science journals Physica A, PLOS ONE, Nature and Cell. These investigators found a day of the week effect for all four of these journals, with highly significant differences being reported between the number of successful submissions on weekdays compared with those at the weekend (approximately 17.5% per each weekday versus approx. 6% at the weekend for each journal).

Of course, it is important to consider when examining these data sets that there might be overriding seasonal effects, hemispheric effects, or specific effects that can be attributed to religious beliefs and practices in different parts of the world. There have in fact been several studies of such variables but there have been no clear-cut findings in these studies with respect to submission dates. In 2017 Ausloos et al re-analysed their 2016 data and rejected the notion that there might be a seasonal effect – or a teaching/vacation split in their data.  Similarly, Boja et al did not find any significant effects for different seasons or different continents, although significantly more papers were submitted during the Christmas period.

The authors in all of the studies reported above find a similar finding.  This is to the effect that papers submitted at weekends are less successful than papers submitted during the week and there are few, if any, seasonal effects.  With none of these studies definitively explaining this days of the week conundrum, we at conpher cannot tell you what will be best for you, but I know none of our team are planning to submit on a day starting with “S”…. 🙂

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