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How do I withdraw a paper from a journal after it was accepted but before it was fully published? On the advice of a senior colleague, I decided that I do not want to publish the paper anymore and with that journal. I wrote the editor several times; he has received the emails, but refuses to reply. I know he gets the emails because if its on other matters he has replied but not on the paper. I am ready to forfeit the processing fee I gave them but they refuse to reply and have already published the abstract of the paper to their site but not the full paper. Is legal action an option and do I have the right to sue? What are the guidelines in matters like these? Thank you.

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There’s a related question here, but it's probably not an exact duplicate. –  F'x Nov 3 '12 at 10:05
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Is the issue that you don't want to publish the paper at all, or just in that journal? The latter is much harder to pull off—and you'll burn bridges if you try to publish with them in the future. –  aeismail Nov 3 '12 at 20:52
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@F'x: It's almost an exact duplicate, but the reasoning here may be different. This question might really be: "What do I do if I submit a paper to the wrong journal?" –  aeismail Nov 3 '12 at 20:53
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@aeismail well, the other question is “how do I ask them” and the question here seems more along the lines of “I've asked them, and they don't reply; what are my other options”. –  F'x Nov 3 '12 at 20:59

1 Answer 1

  1. Check out the journal’s policy. While they do not always address the issue of what stages a paper can be withdrawn, you can find some indirect information. For example, if the policy says:

    Manuscripts for which page proofs are not returned in a timely manner will be withdrawn from publication.

    (here in the case of the JACS journal), then you can still withdraw the paper at the proofing stage.

  2. Leave a bit more time to the editor… it's a time-consuming job, and he might just be very busy. You can send a gentle reminder. Just mind that you are the one asking for something out of the ordinary, so mind your manners.

  3. Where are you at in the publication process? If you have signed the copyright transfer agreement, paid the processing fee (you mentioned one; no all journals have them) and sent back the final proofs with your corrections, you might just be too late legally speaking. It probably doesn't hurt to ask, but you might not have legal recourses apart from retraction (and avoid that).

  4. Whatever you say, don't ask for retraction. Retracting a paper once published is a grave decision to make, and it is not appropriate in your case.

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Thanks alot. This helps. The journal did not even send back the paper for corrections and there was no final proof for me to see first. They only ask may be to correct the style and such. I think its a mediocre journal. May be i will just allow them be. Thanks –  Jeremy Nov 3 '12 at 11:42

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