I have a submitted a paper to a IEEE letter. Unfortunately, at a later stage I noticed that letter is still in process to have an impact factor. I already received reviews from reviewers and the journal is willing to accept the paper after minor revision. Is it ethical to withdraw the paper at this stage?


2 Answers 2


It is fine (and ethical) to retract your paper at any stage. Also, you have no obligation to justify the retraction (but the editor will be curious, of course). The reviewers have put in work so it may not be NICE, but that is another story. In the end it is YOUR work and your paper, and you can decide what to do with it. If it deserves to be published in a (much) better journal: go for it.

On the other hand, if the journal is not a "predatory journal", your paper is close to being accepted, and the possible increase in impact factor is minor, it may not be worth the extra work to change the formatting and go through the whole review process again.

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    I think it is not ethical to retract if the reviewers already have done the job (and a proper job, as befits a solid journal). Reviewers already have the unpleasant job of filtering out papers, and if I were a reviewer that has seen already a paper submitted somewhere else, and would be expected to re-review it, I would be wondering what the reason for rejection was. Oct 8, 2018 at 18:17
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    If I learned that I had invested some hours' work to review a paper, only to have the author retract it because he is not happy with the journal, I would feel rather pissed indeed. If the review is open and I know the author's name, I would consider refusing to review any more of this author's work, because there are few things more disrespectful of an academic than wasting his time. No, retracting after reviews is not ethical. -1. Oct 8, 2018 at 18:17
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    @StephanKolassa Stated better than I did. Definitely disrespect for the time of the academics. Oct 8, 2018 at 18:19
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    The few hours of work the reviewers did are nothing compared to the possible effect on the author's career when the paper is published in a journal of lower quality. The paper may for example not be counted for a grant proposal because its impact factor is below a threshold. Being disrespectful and making reviewers "pissed" is not good, but it is definitely NOT unethical. People make mistakes and have the right to correct them, even if this causes others to do more (unnecessary) work.
    – Louic
    Oct 8, 2018 at 22:00
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    @louic Other researchers have a career, too. They put their own work at the back burner and invest several valuable hours to review the paper, and they get, sorry to say, a "slap in the face". If they are serious researchers who have agreed to review for an even not so good journal or paper, OP has now deprived them of several hours of productive work for absolutely nothing. And frankly, if impact factor hunting is a sufficient motive for a retraction, it is even worse; it is applying the wholly wrong principles. Some of the best (and most cited) papers are in low-impact factor outlets. Oct 9, 2018 at 11:53

There is nothing to do with ethics as question asks. This is simple professionalism. The journal has devoted enough time for reviewing the manuscript. The reviewers have put in their efforts.

If you are really fixed about not go ahead with submission of revised manuscript, then do the following:

  • Don't submit the revised manuscript to the journal.

  • If the journal editor asks about the revision, then say that you are extending the article in various ways and would not submit the manuscript. But, thank them for their efforts.

But, I would suggest that you had made a mistake not looking at the journal statistics, you should go ahead with this journal with the publication.

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    Yes, I made a mistake as I mixed up the name of journal while look for impact factor.
    – cswah
    Oct 8, 2018 at 10:43

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