It is to ask that I sent my original article in some journal, reviewers asked me to make some amendments which I did on time. The editor then sent me an email with their decision of acceptance. Now they have published their journal new edition, but my article is not published. Is it legal or ethical to do this?

  • 3
    The article has been accepted, but was probably not ready for this edition of the journal so it will be in the next one. Cycles of producing journals is one thing, getting articles ready for publication is a different cycle waiting on reviewers turn around and authors also turning the revisions around...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 11:57
  • If the journal is available on line, you might check the 'in press' listings. Or, some journals show future incomplete issues.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 12:30
  • 1
    Answer to your title: NO. But from your text, my guess would be: your article will be in a future issue. And thus, as far as we can tell, the editor's actions were legal and ethical.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 12:38
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    Have you even gotten and corrected proofs? Your paper is probably not even "done" yet, acceptance is just one step, see: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/55665/… you may have only completed step "editorial decision"...
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 16:26

3 Answers 3


If they've accepted it, they will publish it (eventually). They have nothing to gain otherwise by holding your paper. That it's not been published in the latest issue isn't a sign that they're not going to publish your paper at all - they could for example have a lot of papers that are online ready waiting for an issue, and they've hit their page count limit for this issue.

Whether the journal has the authority to reject your paper after accepting it is a separate question. In principle, they can: nothing gets published without the editor-in-chief's approval after all, and he can change his mind. In practice, this happens extremely rarely. If they find out for example that the paper is plagiarized, then it can be rejected. But to reject it because they changed their mind about whether it's publishable - that's almost never going to happen.


I would check the journal on line. The Journal of Alloys and Compounds us a good example of several things that could be going on.

First, the front page is mainly about the available articles (this is a small portion of the section):

enter image description here

The first article shown is a "In Press, Journal Pre-proof, Available online" - it is accepted, considered in press, and the proofs have not come back from the authors. But, it is available to be read by anyone and the pdf tells you how to cite it since it has a doi already.

Now, go to the issue listing near the top of the page:

enter image description here

Notice that the 30 September issue is done and considered fully published. There are then three more issues listed as "In progress", being filled out with articles from the queue of available accepted papers. (Many/most journals prefer to try and balance the variety of topics covered in an issue, although some prefer to have focused issues. This impacts how long a newly accepted article might take to surface). Again, any articles listed in the "In progress" issues are fully ready to be downloaded, read, and cited.

So, go online and see what is available - your article may be there.


Yes, it is both legal and ethical. I don't know why you would ask about legality, unless you have paid for publication.

But there are two things here. It may just be a matter of timing and available space. Your article may be in the pipeline for a future edition, but didn't make it into the most recent. Except for a special issue, I think that is the most likely explanation.

You have a letter of acceptance from the editor, so I think that your article will appear and don't suppose an editor would pull your article after sending such a letter unless they learned late of some serious issue - say scientific misconduct.

But prior to a letter of acceptance, the editor is free to act and include or not include any article. The reviewers work for the editor, not the other way round.

You are free to ask, of course. You can send a message that you thought your article was going to be in the recent issue and would like a publication update.

  • It would start to be unethical, arguably, if the delay gets considerable (in the timescale of years); see e.g. academia.stackexchange.com/q/124005/958, academia.stackexchange.com/q/123980/958. Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 12:14
  • @FedericoPoloni, that would depend on the reason (if any) for the delay. If the editor does this to disadvantage an author (or advantage another), then yes, but the ethical consideration then goes beyond the delay. But a long delay while claims are investigated isn't unethical on its face.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 12:30
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    Many journals have many many months of backlog before accepted articles get published. Some are beyond one year. Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 12:31
  • @WolfgangBangerth Yes, and personally I consider that unethical. Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 12:37
  • @FedericoPoloni is it unethical if it does not get published in your timeframe but does in their timeframe?
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 13:25

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