Like charlieholder, I could have sworn that when a contributor clicked "Submit for Review" the admin received an email alert, and admin Dashboard displayed the post as Pending. But checking back through the few email alerts I saved from early tests it appears this happens for Comments, but not for Posts.
Like charlieholder, I can't believe this isn't built in. Like charlieholder, I wish someone from the WP core would confirm whether this is a design feature or not.
Searching the forums I found these two posts, from 6 and 8 months ago respectively, describing alterations to the database - none of which I'm eager to make as there's no way of knowing what it might do to future upgrades. Both posts have been marked as "resolved", which strikes me as a bit - well - premature!
Searching trac I found Ticket #6290, 'Show "Pending Review" posts prominently on the Dashboard', opened 18 months ago by markjaquith, which says:
"Pending comments" get their nice little comment bubble, but pending posts are more important than pending comments. I'm thinking pending posts need their own line (if present, naturally) in the "Right Now" div. Patch coming.
The version No. is 2.5 and the status is 'fixed', which I assumed meant that this function was added to v2.5. But a search of the source code of v.2.8.4 suggests very little, if any, of markjaquith's patch has made it into the latest release.
Now I'm really confused!
As a WordPress newbie there's obviously quite a lot I'm not getting here. Any hints from older hands would be much appreciated.