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I submitted a paper to a social sciences journal and it has been accepted. However, the publisher tells me it is going to be printed in the next weeks in the 2016 issue. How to make sense of this? Apparently the issue has been delayed a few years. However it will not mention the year 2019 and it is officially a 2016 paper issue. No digital copy since the journal doesn't have a webpage. Can I still put 2019 in my CV? and if I want to present it in an upcoming conference?

It is an old journal in French that might had issues with their timeframe, collecting papers, printing, and moreover getting the editing work done on ambitious projects. Is it really an issue when the work was done? If this is part of PhD research, want difference does it make if it is possible to indicate in bibliography that the work was submitted and printed in 2019?

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    If any journal editor is reading this...please don't do this ever. Why, why, why. – Bryan Krause Jan 29 at 19:34
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    Are you sure that's not just a typo, and the editor didn't mean 2019 after all? – corey979 Jan 29 at 19:53
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    In these days academics get evaluated on bibliometrics more and more aggressively. At least where I work,"you must have N papers published in the past M years" is a common requirement for various funds / promotions. With this in mind, having a 2019 paper published with a 2016 date is an even worse deal than it looks. Maybe it doesn't matter to you now, but it may matter 3-4 years from now. – Federico Poloni Jan 29 at 20:28
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – eykanal Jan 30 at 21:18
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I would pull the paper. I would be worried that the issue is never going to be published and that the paper is going to sit in limbo for years. The fact that the journal has no web page, even in the social sciences, is concerning to me. Are you sure that libraries are going to get this newest issue when it comes out for it to be archived?

If I were to keep the paper in the pipeline for the journal, I would want some reassurances. I would look at the journal editorial board and review process. If the review process was exceptionally speedy and the initial decision was accept as is (or very minor revisions), I would worry the journal is desperate. A high rate of turn over in editors or reviewers (i.e., different people on every iteration) would also concern me. I would put a time contingency on the copyright transfer so that it expires if the issue is not published in the next few weeks.

Then you have all the issues with playing with the timeline. How are people (e.g., tenure committees or search committees) going to know when you did the work. Even saying that it was published in 2019, isn't the issue, committees want to know when you did the work. I can only imagine the headaches that it could cause with funders when trying to explain why work funded in 2018 is in a 2016 issue, regardless of when it came out. Screwing with the timeline is also probably going to mess up a lot of bibliometrics (e.g., 5 year impact factor would only go for citations through 2021 or really a 2 year window).

  • Publisher says it will be published in the next weeks. Without that assurance, I'd probably agree about pulling it. I think it is worth a chuckle, not a panic, actually. – Buffy Jan 29 at 20:16
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    @Buffy yup, and I bet they keep saying that to the poor sap who submitted a paper in 2015. – StrongBad Jan 29 at 20:17
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    Your "bet" is just a guess, of course. And pulling the paper keeps it unpublished for at least a while longer. Fine if you already have a good pub record and stuff in the pipeline otherwise. Less fine if not. Reacting with irritation to a journal, even when justified, does little to advance your own career. I can't say whether withdrawing is best, but I doubt you can either. – Buffy Jan 29 at 20:21
  • @Buffy I added some more suggestions about pulling the paper. – StrongBad Jan 29 at 20:28
  • There might be an issue with pulling the paper if the author already signed over the copyright/agreement to publish forms. – Kimball Jan 29 at 20:42
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In your CV, I think it would be proper to put the official date (2016), but also acceptable to note that it was (will be) "published 2019". For presentation at the conference, I assume you need to submit it first. You can send a note to the program chair explaining the situation.

It will always be a bit anomalous, but it is what it is. Even in a formal citation you can list both dates - 2016 issue, published 2019.

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Chances are, the journal is having trouble filling its issues. It doesn't have enough papers, so issues promised to subscribers were never delivered - the journal now "owes" its subscribers the missing issues and your paper was put into one of these issues.

C'est la vie.

  • There might be a lot of reasons for not being able to produce issues in a timely manner. If the journal were dedicated to an especially arcane field, that would be pretty common, I think. But other, valid and invalid, reasons might come to mind. – Buffy Jan 29 at 20:45
  • If it's a new journal, my guess would be that the editorial board were overly optimistic about how well the community will react to it (e.g. by starting at 4 issues/year instead of 2 issues/year). If it's an old journal, then I'd guess either the field is becoming less popular, or the journal overestimated future submissions and decided to increase its issue count prematurely. – Allure Jan 29 at 23:22

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