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I have submitted a paper more than a year ago, but still I haven't heard anything back from the editor. As of today I have no idea whether my paper has been accepted/rejected or is in a review stage. Only thing I know is that it has been received, for a got a confirmation of this soon after the submission. Needless to say that I've tried several times to get in contact with the editor to find out about my paper's fate, but I got not a single reply to my status update requests. What should you do in a case like this? I was thinking of writing to the editor again to let him know that I'm withdrawing the paper from him and submitting to someone else? Is this a good idea? Are there other paths one might walk down to?

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Happened to me during my postdoc. Produced one paper; got a one-paragraph rejection letter after 18 months in review; bye bye academic career. –  Flounderer Feb 3 at 21:46
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This is very bad publishing practice. I understand that you don't want to reveal yourself by telling us which one it is, but I think this sort of behavior should be reported to colleagues. I would stay away from such a journal. –  Jigg Feb 3 at 21:59
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2 Answers

If the editor isn't responding, it's time to escalate. The journal's web page should give contact info for an editor-in-chief and/or a managing editor. Contact one or both of them and let them know that you would like an update on the status of your paper, but cannot get a response from the handling editor (include dates of submission, dates you sent emails, etc). They should take care of the situation.

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"They should take care of the situation." they should, but they don't always. Some journals are just awful and managed so poorly. –  StrongBad Feb 3 at 14:46
    
The only contact I had so far is indeed with the Editor-in-chief. The story goes like this: I submit the paper before Christmas; for some reasons I get no reply to that. I then rewrite after a few weeks into the new year (2013) and finally the Editor-in-chief tells me that he has received and filed to the appropriate branch said paper. After several months of absolute silence I decide to write to the Editor-in-chief to get an update, but I get no reply. I wrote him again after a couple of months, but with the same result. Meanwhile a year has passed. –  Phoenix87 Feb 3 at 15:23
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So have you tried contacting the handling editor at all, or have you always gone straight to the editor-in-chief? –  Tara B Feb 3 at 16:03
    
So far I've been trying to reach the Editor-in-chief of the appropriate section. Just to be clear, what do you mean by handling/managing editor? Is he/she the person in charge of the publisher company? –  Phoenix87 Feb 3 at 17:11
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No, the person in charge of handling your paper specifically (e.g. finding a referee for it). You should hopefully have been told who this is (when I submitted papers, I was asked to nominate an editor from the journal's editorial board, and my paper was always handled by the person I nominated). –  Tara B Feb 3 at 17:29
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Can you get hold of the editor's phone number? I've sometimes found it very effective to call someone when they haven't been replying to emails. However, I've only done this with academics I knew personally. But it still might be worth trying, before you take the fairly major step of withdrawing your paper after more than a year (the advantage of eventually having the paper accepted by the journal you currently have it submitted to is that the date of submission will be on the published paper, and of course this date will be much later if you submit it somewhere else now).

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Thanks for the advice. Since I'm still fresh about this process, I don't really know how to address the editor. I mean, of course it is in my own interest to have the paper published, but maybe mentioning my intention of withdrawal to him wouldn't constitute a leverage of any kind in my favour? What would the best thing to say/write be in this case? Cheers. –  Phoenix87 Feb 3 at 14:09
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"I submitted my paper on X date. It's been Y months now since I first submitted it and I have not heard back from the journal. Would you be able to let me know where in the process it is?" Depending on the discussion you might mention that if you don't get feedback in a certain amount of time that you might consider withdrawing it. –  Irwin Feb 3 at 17:22
    
The content of my many emails to the Editor-in-chief has been so far along the lines of the above comment, except for the part where I should be mentioning my intention of withdrawing the paper. So perhaps my next email will definitely include a hint to my intentions of withdrawal then. –  Phoenix87 Feb 4 at 13:15
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