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.