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I submitted a research paper to a reputed journal (open access). Later, after getting the first reviews, most of the authors are refusing to pay the publication fees even though we all previously decided to contribute.

I sent a wave-off request to the journal by explaining the money problem. The journal denied the delay so at last I requested them to withdraw the paper. First they said that they were withdrawing it. Later they said that we mistakenly wrote withdraw instead of "move to production" (which is a clear lie).

I have mailed them so many times to withdraw but now they are replying in an impolite way. How can I convince the journal to withdraw the paper?

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    I don't understand. What do you mean by 'most of the authors they dragged their name for money'? Coauthors don't want to contribute to the cost of publication? And if you can't pay, how would this article go into production? – Emilie Feb 12 at 19:40
  • Researcher, I have a substantial edit that's in review. If it's approved, and I have misunderstood the problem, please revert or edit it. – mkennedy Feb 12 at 19:46
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    Your question title says "in order to resubmit to a better journal" but the body of your question suggests "because coauthors don't want to pay the publication fees" - these are two quite different reasons. Can you please clarify? – Bryan Krause Feb 12 at 19:49
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    What is a "wave-off request"? Have you already signed over your copyright? (If not, then why are you requesting to withdraw the paper, instead of just informing them that you are withdrawing the paper?) – JeffE Feb 13 at 8:07
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    The journal doesn't withdraw a paper; the author does. I think you mean "how can I prevent a journal from publishing my paper?". – David Ketcheson Feb 15 at 5:52
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This sounds like a strange situation, in which something isn't adding up. It seems to me that one of two things is going on here:

  1. This isn't actually the reputable journal that you think it is. It might be a "look-alike" predatory journal, or a formerly-good journal that has been hijacked, but in either case they are trying to scam you.
  2. Something is deeply confused within the editors, and they've decided to publish despite the fact you've told them that you will not be paying.

In the first case, you definitely don't want your paper there, and in the second case maybe you'll get a free publication for some strange reason. The problem is to distinguish between the two cases.

Accordingly, I would recommend proceeding by writing an email something like the following:

Dear Editors:

As you know know from our former correspondence, we are unexpectedly unable to pay the publication fee for this paper. We are confused as to your current plans for the paper, however, and request a clarification. Which of these two is your current plan for the paper?

  1. The paper is withdrawn, and we will submit to a different venue.
  2. You plan to waive the fee and publish the paper free of charge.

Please let us know promptly, so we can plan the next step with this paper. If you do not reply within one week, we will assume the paper is withdrawn.

If they are predatory, they'll probably try to either stall or else try to tell you they're going to publish it and you have to pay. Ignore such threats, even if they bluster about taking you to court. You are the author and nobody can force you to publish a scientific paper against your will: if they try, they will simply be exposing their own fraud.

If they're real, they'll probably answer one way or another --- or fail to, in which case you would be quite reasonable to assume the paper is de facto withdrawn and take it elsewhere.

  • Thank you very much for valuable suggestions.I have sent the paper already in another journal. But now i have seen that they have published it without our consent (two days back), however we have cleared them a month before that we want to withdraw and also got confirmation from their side. Sir, We are budding researchers not aware of such things and they are taking benefit of it. Now i am mentally upset, i dont know what to do. Now the situation has arrived that even if they wl be doing this free of charges still i don't want to publish or any kind of dealing with such journal. – Researcher Feb 17 at 11:32
  • @Researcher Have you been able to assess whether the journal is legitimate or predatory? In either case, if you did not transfer the copyright, you can send them a copyright takedown notice. If they do not comply, then you can set your university's legal department on them. – jakebeal Feb 17 at 13:31
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I've never tried this but if you inform them to withdraw the paper and that the fees won't be paid, that it will get their attention.

If you have given up copyright already, this might not be effective, and you may already have a contractual obligation to pay and will need to fight it out with your co-authors.

But if you still hold copyright, then they have no rights to publish the work. You can, then, also inform them that you won't sign over the rights.

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