Background: The motivation for this question is two-fold. First, I would like to get some hard facts to better understand the ongoing conferences vs. journals debate. Second, if this information was somewhere available, I could make a more informed decision when submitting papers for review; I would be happy to favour journals whose editors do a good job at selecting and shepherding referees.

Question: Are there any TCS journals that have consistently fast reviewing?

The rules:

  • I am not looking for any anecdotal evidence; I would like to see hard facts, such as "according to our statistics, during the last 3 years, 98% of our submissions were reviewed in at most 4 months".

  • Only time from the initial submission to the first decision counts. I do not care how long it takes to actually print a physical journal; it is beyond our control anyway.

  • A journal that is just a series of conference proceedings does not count. We all know that conference reviewing is quick.

  • Open-access on-line journals are perfectly fine.

(And if a journal is so questionable that you would be embarrassed if your name was somehow associated with it, let's skip it entirely.)

  • $\begingroup$ I review for PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They publish some computer-science papers, often with an engineering aspect. In any case, the editors routinely include this sentence in their request: "We would need to have your critique within the next 10 days"! A different world... $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 11:53
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ @JosephO'Rourke: A different world indeed. But at least in computer science, what the editors request and what the reviewers do are also two different worlds. For example, when I have reviewed for IPL, I have been asked to return my report in 4 weeks, but when I have submitted to IPL, it has taken up to 10 months to get any feedback. That's one of the reason why I would like to see statistics... $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 12:01

7 Answers 7


Glencora Borradaile has an interactive graph with turnover time (among other information) for several journals from several sources.

However, not included is the first journal I think of with a fast turnaround time: Information Processing Letters (IPL). I couldn't find any statistics, but rapid dissemination is their first goal. When refereeing for a similar Elsevier journal with the same goal of rapid dissemination but with a slightly different scope, they requested my report within about 5 weeks.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Thanks, Borradaile's graph is really nice! Regarding IPL, I do not think the reviewing times are that fast in practice, but I would really like to see some statistics. To get a rough idea, I took the latest 64 papers and calculated the time between "received" and "received in revised form" time stamps. Less than 6 months: 28/64 ≈ 44% of papers, less than 9 months: 45/64 ≈ 70% of papers. If we assume that the authors react quickly to referee comments (these are short papers), we cannot really say that reviewing is consistently fast. Certainly much more than 5 weeks. :) $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ @JukkaSuomela, it has been a long time you asked this but about IPL I can share my experience: I think it depends on whether the paper already appeared at a conference or not. In the first case, the process is really fast, even faster than the conference itself: my experience says takes around 2 months for the first response and 4 months for final publication, but I have another running experience that I sent a paper directly to IPL without trying any conference (since I was thinking it is always fast) but it took 7-8 months for first response. $\endgroup$
    – Saeed
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ Additionally, when I get IPL reviews, I face a similar situation, when the paper did not appear anywhere beforehand, the editorial board is not in rush, they give me several months for review. $\endgroup$
    – Saeed
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 14:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Glencora Borradaile's graph seems to no longer be online unfortunately. $\endgroup$
    – a3nm
    Commented Apr 29 at 15:03

Edit: It's been 2+ years so I'm updating the answer.

Every year the Notices of the AMS publishes a list of math journals and their backlogs, turnaround times, etc. Here are some of the previous articles: Nov 2009, Nov 2010, Nov 2011, Nov 2012, Nov 2013.

Based on the Nov 2013 article, here are some CS Journals and their median submission to final acceptance times:

  • Algorithmica (Springer): 7 months
  • Theory of Computing Systems (Springer): 7 months
  • Theory of Computing: 12 months
  • Theoretical Computer Science (Elsevier): 13 months
  • SIAM Journal on Computing: 15.4 months

TheoretiCS, which was launched in late 2021, is a TCS journal that fits your description. It aims to give a first verdict (either reject, either conditional accept subject to the results being correct and well-presented) within 3 months.

It has hard statistics to back this claim: in 2023, the average time between submission and this first decision (called Phase 1) was 90 days. (This is an average, not a maximum.)

TheoretiCS is also a purely online journal which is diamond open-access (submitting and reading papers is free), the papers are hosted on arXiv.

(Disclaimer: I was previously involved in running TheoretiCS as managing editor.)


The IEICE Transactions from Japan has a very fast review process. The first round of review takes at most 3 months, and the second round between 2-3 months. So, in 5-6 months you get a definitive answer. I don't know the numbers, but several professors told me that's the case, and I confirmed that by personal experience. These journals are very popular in Japan, with many papers published every month.


While it is not a typical core-TCS journal, it seems that ACM Transactions on Database Systems sets a very good example:


I am an AE for Journal of Biopharmaceutical Statistics and Statistics in Biopharmaceutical research. Both journals aim to review articles within 3 months. They also provide us with lists of referees with the specialties and past perfirmance with the journal. Links: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/lbps and http://www.amstat.org/publications/sbr.cfm. I think this is becoming commonplace and in the case of SBR it is published electronically only. So the articles get published more quickly than if they had to go to press. For conferences the Interface between Computer Science and Statistics meetings may be a good place for members of this site to present papers. Their proceedings is read quite extensively. The Communications in Statistics journal Simulation and Computation may also have a fast review cycle. Link: http://www.math.mcmaster.ca/bala/comstat/cis_sc_2.html.


I have heard that Theory of Computing aims to have quick reviews. I am not sure about the statistics though, I have not looked them up.


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