Article Approval Time Gap Management

Today our team of editors received a new tool designed to help them see how much time elapses between each article approval… The idea is to help make our editors aware as to how much time elapses between each article review and approval so that they can become conscious of activities that do and don’t produce results.

The tool will also help our management team to spot trends and problems. Example: Associate Editor Kirk this morning had 3 seconds between articles being approved when his running average is 4 minutes and 16 seconds per article reviewed. We can then zero in our quality assurance time to review that variance from the norms.

Another benefit of this tool is that some Associate Editors perform better in terms of quantity and quality of their article reviewing production…and this will help us identify and catch when people on our team are doing something right so that we can all learn from it…and thus enhance our overall efficiency… the end result being better service to our authors.

Here is an internal screen shot of Kirk’s morning approvals:

[Note: Kirk is new with us and only in his 3rd week as an Associate Editor… Normally, it takes 4-6 weeks to come up to full speed]

The idea for this tool came from the fast food industry where they time and track how many minutes and seconds it takes to bring a person from the drive thru ordering point to the pickup of the food point… with the goal to reduce the time it takes to service quality food very quickly… and in our case, to review and/or approve article submissions very quickly.


Ed Howes writes:

Will we be getting meaningful feedback on the results of this new efficiency program? What is the average approval time all editors? What is the average approval time all editors after one month of monitoring? What is the error rate now and a month from now? What are the main lessons learned in one month, two, etc.? This appears to be a goal setting tool with great potential and I believe if performance is enhanced as a result, all editors should receive raises and benefits equivalent to the cost of adding another editor to the payroll, or two editors if improvements eliminate the need for two more. Working against the clock can cause competition which leads to resentments which would be mitigated if it were part of a generous incentives program. I have never resented a co worker who happened to be better than me at a job or begrudged that worker fair compensation for both their ability and effort. I once worked as a beer delivery helper and back up driver. The driver made 15 cents per hour more than I did but had all the responsibility for the truck and the load for that 15 cents, which allowed me to relax over 10 and 12 hour days, worth every penny of the $1.50 I sacrificed as a helper.

Comment provided December 11, 2006 at 11:44 AM


Lance Winslow writes:

I really enjoyed this case study analysis. Perhaps I should write some articles on how borrowing information from one industry to use in another makes so much sense and make each article another case study. Thank you for this Blog Post, as it propelled thought and is very interesting indeed.

Comment provided December 11, 2006 at 1:43 PM



before I clicked on the “read the whole post” link, I thought, “Man, (or Brethren) this smacks of McDonalds.”

Then I following the link and, in fact, you mean it to smack of McDonalds.

I used to be a crew trainer at McD’s a long time ago – and at that time, they were just introducing the technology that set off alarms if people were waiting at the window for their food for longer than the appropriate McSecond that the corporate folks deemed “good service.”

I have this terrible feeling that this is just the beginning for poor editor Kirk – who seems to be editing pretty darn fast IMHO. I can see an alarm going off on his screen saying “Hurry, the article is getting cold.”

I hope it helps you all. Personally, I would hate it.

my Mc.02

Comment provided December 14, 2006 at 9:04 AM



Many folks think being an article review editor means being able to enjoy the content.

That isn’t so… Here we focus on the trust or credibility factor and the mechanical factor of the article content.

Full speed is somewhere in the 45-70 articles reviewed per hour.

Our best editors approve and review 450-600 articles per day. It is possible, but they don’t all believe it until they see it for themselves.

We try to not hire the ‘artsy farts’ style editor who is a perfectionist; but rather we go after the production oriented producer who enjoys a fast pace when reviewing articles.

Comment provided December 14, 2006 at 9:10 AM



Dear Chris,
I apprecite your comment. Of course, it makes perfect sense that a huge part of your business is getting through the scads of articles that come your way. And, anything to help productivity, well, helps.

It is probably my own unresolved issues from my MdD days. I just felt sad for poor new editor Kirk.

Comment provided December 14, 2006 at 9:36 AM


Ed Howes writes:

This sounds more like scanning or skimming articles and it raises questions about the reading habits of editors during non work hours and I think a survey would be interesting. Do editors read much during their own time? Do they tend to scan when they do as at work? Do they go back and read articles that got their attention during their free time? Do they avoid reading and watch video or listen to music? Do they listen to music at work? Enquiring minds want to know.

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 11:20 AM




I printed out your comment and walked into our editor room to poll the team. Here is what they said:

They all said they read a lot on their own time. Half of them scan as they read and the other half read more slowly.

They do listen to music while at work and while reviewing/approving articles. They rotate who gets to play what song. One editor puts on headphones to block the others out.

They often will take an article that piques their unique interests and will save it or bookmark it for reading off hours.

Personally, I only reviewed the first 30,000 articles by hand and don’t review/approve articles daily any more, but when I did, I loved to crank up dance music to enter ‘the zone’… and I don’t scan when I read for pleasure.

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 11:40 AM


Ed Howes writes:

Thanks Chris,

You just set some kind of record for response time. Very impressive and satisfying responses by the editors as well. Thanks to all.

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 11:59 AM


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