Over the summer really scubbed our website of artificial links but there were some that we couldn't get removed.
On 10/17 submitted about 100 bad links. Position page ~5
On 10/28 we had an incredible recovery to page 2
On 10/30 I upped the disavows from 100 to 900 that I found in a manual audit.
On 11/4 we jumped back to page 6.
The amount of disavows could have gotten us in trouble. When we scrubbed in the summer we went from page 7 to about 30...so google doesn't like to see a lot of links lost in a hurry IMO...but this is healthy link detox in the long run (I hope).
On 11/11 we're back to page 2.
We probably removed 4-5 thousand artificial links from that our SEO company left us with for context. We also continue to use a link-removal service to go after the toughest of the tough. So if our positive bounces were due to disavows part of it could have been because we did indeed scrub many links prior to the disavows which I believe google values. Who knows...correlation is not causation, but I think this is working.
Also for context we jumped from page 25 to 16 on 10/5 (the penguin refresh) then 12 days later jumped to 6.