It took me four hours today to write and polish a disposition e-mail to the author(s) of a submission. This was a manuscript that I enjoyed very much but for a variety of reasons could not publish, and I owed the author(s) some good advice, or at least the best advice I could give. When I began this editing gig, I’d frequently spend that much time on a disposition e-mail for almost any manuscript, and I’m still spending lots of time on R&R (revise-and-resubmit) e-mails.
And while I spend some time on rejection letters, they usually don’t require as much time as an R&R request (would that be an R&R R?), because the key thing about R&R is to provide as focused feedback as I can — that’s both fair to authors and sanity-saving for me. Rejections require an explanation of why a work is either not appropriate for the journal or technically weak, but there is less of the social-contract obligation of an R&R. After all, if the author(s) revise and submit to another journal, they will (quite properly) have an entirely different set of eyes looking at the material.
The next few e-mails are for R&Rs, and I think they’ll be shoved back to sometime in the weekend, because they may take some time, too!