Introduction Publication delay, chronological distance between completion of a scientific work and distribution of its achievements as
a peer reviewed paper, is a negative phenomenon in scientific information dissemination. It can be further subdivided in successive
stages corresponding to the peer review process and the technical preparation of accepted manuscripts. Formal online posting
in electronic versions of journals has been considered as a shortening of the process.
Objectives To determine publication delay in a group of leading Food Research journals, as well as factors affecting this lag and also
to compute the effect of formal online posting on the distribution of papers in electronic form. Secondary objective is also
to study the possible effect of informal posting of papers through some repositories on the publication delay in the field.
Methods 14 Food Research journals were selected and 4836 papers published in 2004 were examined. Dates of first submission, submission
of revised manuscripts, acceptation, online posting and final publication were recorded for each paper.
Analysis Data collected were analyzed using SPSS and SigmaPlot. Parametric correlation between some variables was determined and ANOVA
was performed with BMDP package for significance analysis of differences among journals.
Results average publication delay of papers submitted to the set of selected journals is 348 ± 104 days, with European Food Research and Technology and Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showing the shortest delays. Total delay strongly depends on the peer review process. On average, 85.75% of manuscripts are
corrected prior to their acceptance by journals. Online posting of papers prior to their print publication reduces total delay
in about 29%. On average, a paper is posted online 260 days after its submission to the set of journals.
Conclusions Publication delay of papers is strongly dependent on the peer review process, which affects most of the manuscripts in the
Food Research field. Advanced online publication through formal posting at the editor’s sites only slightly reduces the time
between reception and final publication of papers.
Editorial delay, the time between submission and acceptance of scientific manuscripts, was investigated for a set of 4,540
papers published in 13 leading food research journals. Groups of accelerated papers were defined as those that fell in the
lower quartile of the distribution of the editorial delay for the journals investigated. Delayed papers are those in the upper
quartile of the distribution. Editorial stage is related to the peer review process and two variables were investigated in
search of any bias in editorial review that could influence publication delay: countries of origin of the manuscript and authors’
previous publishing experience in the same journal. A ranking of countries was established based on contributions to the leading
food research journals in the period 1999–2004 and four categories comprising heavy, medium, light and occasional country
producers was established. Chi square tests show significant differences in country provenance of manuscripts only for one
journal. The results for influence on editorial delay of cross-national research and international collaboration, conducted
by means of the Fisher statistic test, were similar. A two-tailed Student’s t test shows significant differences (p<0.05)
in the distribution of experienced and novel authors across the delayed and accelerated groups of papers. Although these results
are time and discipline limited, it can be concluded that authors’ publishing experience causes a faster review and acceptance
of their papers and that neither country of provenance nor cross-national research influence the time involved in editorial
acceptance of the papers.