There is a nice little polysci journal called the Journal of Politics. I published one paper there with Mungowitz way back in 1993. I still review for polysci journals and recently got a request from the JOP to review a piece. I said yes, somehow missing in the email the fact that the editors of this journal have completely lost their minds.
Today I got a "gentle reminder" that my review was due on June 9. It was a WTF moment because I had only agreed to review the paper on May 19!! The reminder letter said they had a policy of "reasonable turnaround" so I figured this was a weird typo/screw up. Then I went back and looked at the original request email. And it said that they wanted the review IN THREE WEEKS.
Here is the message I sent back to the editors:
"Wow. I can't believe you expect reviews in three weeks. Here is what I can give you. I have skimmed the paper and found it on a first look to be superficial and boring. I have no plans to complete a review in the next week or two. I honestly have to say that your turnaround policy is abusive. I guess I didn't notice the "deadline" TWO WEEKS AGO when I first agreed to do the review. I think you'd better find another reviewer and leave me off your list of potential reviewers in the future. I am still shaking my head in astonishment about the message you just sent me.
Good luck with implementing this policy,
(Somewhere, Don Boudreaux is smiling)
Who in the world are they going to get to do referee reports in 3 weeks, and if they do find people willing to do it, how bad are those reports going to be? Look, referee reports are 3-6 months. That's just how it is. All a 3 week policy is going to do is piss people off.
There is no doubt that long delays in getting feedback from journals is unprofessional and unnecessary. I have a piece with an ex-student that sat for 11 months before we got a review (which was a straightforward R&R) and now the revised version has been sitting for about 8 months. I almost don't remember what the paper is about! But trying to combat long delays by setting an absurdly short deadline is counterproductive and silly.
(UPDATE: Note the ANGUS wrote this, not Mungowitz. And, in the hopes of generating infinite citations, I add this link, that links to us, that links to....)