How Long Does PLoS Take to Review a Paper? All PLoS Journals Now

Due to popular demand (at least two people asked, surely that’s demand), here is a generalization of Monday’s work to include a few more PLoS journals. (This was mostly because it was easier to generalize my scripts to process process any PLoS journal.)

Here are the images for all PLoS journals. PLoS 1 at the end is the same figure I posted on Monday.

PLoS Pathogens:


PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases:


PLoS Medicine:


PLoS Genetics:


PLoS CompBio:


PLoS Biology:


PLoS One:


For PLoS journals, except PLoS Medicine, it seems that the average acceptance time is 5 months. PLoS Medicine takes 7 months.

PLoS Medicine is the journal that takes the longest to review, PLoS One is the fastest (although some of the papers may have been reviewed in another PLoS journal before, speeding up the process).


Script are on github.

How Long Does Plos One Take to Accept A Paper?

How long do papers take to review?

Too long.

No, seriously, how long? I did a little measurement.

I downloaded the 360 most recent papers from Plos One (as of Friday). They are all annotated with submission and acceptance dates, so it was easy to just compute the differences.

The plot below is a histogram (one bin per day) in grey with a Kernel density estimate as a solid line.

Histogram of acceptance times


The result is it takes about 3 to 4 months to get a paper accepted, but with substancial variance.


Looking at the figure, I had to ask who the poor people were who published that paper which was longest in revision.

Alternative Sigma Factor Over-Expression Enables Heterologous Expression of a Type II Polyketide Biosynthetic Pathway in Escherichia coli by David Cole Stevens, Kyle R. Conway, Nelson Pearce, Luis Roberto Villegas-Peñaranda, Anthony G. Garza, and Christopher N. Boddy. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064858

Submitted on 29 March 2011 and accepted on 22 April 2013, this paper was 755 days in revision.

The fastest acceptance was only 19 days. However, this being Plos One, it is possible that the paper had been reviewed for another Plos journal, rejected with positive reviews on significance grounds, and had those reviews transferred to Plos One. After this, acceptance followed without a new round of peer review.


This is a gimmick. There is perhaps a paper to be written where this is extended to see what areas of research/keywords/&c matter to acceptance time. If I had more free time I might write that paper.

The code for the above is available on github.

UpdateFollowup with all PLoS Journals.