Update: My withdrawal request was accepted and I was also offered to be published in the immediate issue of the Journal. I took back my withdrawal request.

Edit : Mentioning Journal

I have an accepted paper. But it is slated to appear in 2021. And both print and online versions appear around same time. I was hoping online would appear much faster than that, but its not the case. According to copyright I cannot host it on my website also for an embargo period of 12 months. So it's not even sharable, let alone citable. I have a followup paper already being written, and more ideas in pipeline that are built on top of this. This publication wait period defeats my whole purpose of publishing as I cannot share it with others and I cannot cite in furthur works. I cannot use it for advancing my career too. I also have plans to seek research positions or phd fellowships. I am kind of stuck. I cannot withdraw it now as it is already accepted. Is there anyway I can negotiate to get it out much before than the slated time?


An excerpt from the copyright.

Retention of Rights

The Author/Editor may deposit an Author-created version of the Article on Author’s/Editor’s funder’s or funder’s designated repository at the funder’s request or as a result of a legal obligation, provided it is not made publicly available until 12 months after official publication. Author/Editor may not use the Publisher’s PDF version, which is posted on www.publisher.com, for the purpose of that deposit. Additionally, the Author/Editor may deposit the Publisher’s PDF version of the Article on Author’s/Editor’s own website or Author’s/Editor’s institute’s designated repository, provided it is not made publicly available until 12 months after official publication. Furthermore, the Author/Editor may only post the Article provided acknowledgement is given to the original source of publication and a link is inserted to the published Article on Publisher’s website. The link must be accompanied by the following text: “The final publication is available at www.publisher.com”. The Author/Editor is requested to use the appropriate DOI for the Article.

Update : I have made a gentle and polite withdrawal request citing delay as reason, to which I got a one line reply, "Thank you for your message". I don't know how to interpret this one line reply. Does it mean that they will get back to me on this? or I should assume that it's been withdrawn?

  • 8
    Would you mind sharing what discipline you are working in? And are you sure you are not even allowed to share a preprint version of the paper until it appears in 2021? It’s hard for me to imagine such a kafkaesque situation, which would not be even remotely acceptable in math or several other disciplines I’m familiar with. Perhaps if you blog or post on social media about your experience, pressure can be brought to bear on the publisher to relax the restrictions?
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 6:10
  • 1
    @DanRomik : It is mathematics. I have posted an excerpt from the copyright.
    – user102868
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 6:18
  • 8
    interesting. Is this a math journal or a more general science journal (Nature, Science etc)? I’m asking because this is completely at odds with anything I’ve ever seen in the math world. If it’s a math journal, I can only guess that the journal is a predatory one trying to make itself look legitimate by copy/pasting a policy they found elsewhere and don’t really understand, or is otherwise a weak journal run by clueless people who similarly don’t understand what they’re doing. No serious mathematician I know would submit their paper to a journal with such policies.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 6:26
  • 3
    I cannot advise you on withdrawal without knowing the specific journal and without knowing more about your work and your career situation. All I’m saying is, this smells quite fishy to me. Perhaps the best advice I can offer is, find an experienced professional mathematician to give you specific advice about your situation based on detailed, specific information (of the sort that would be inappropriate to post here) about you, your work, and the journal in question. Based on looking at your other posts, it’s clear to me you are in need of this type of advice. Good luck!
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 6:41
  • 3
    I don't see why having this kind of copyright policy makes the journal predatory.
    – Allure
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 9:49

4 Answers 4


It's hard to tell from the outside why they aren't posting online versions of your accepted paper now. If the publisher is the root cause, you could conceivably change their mind by negotiation. I would not be hopeful because they're likely to keep to the status quo purely out of inertia, but your objection would probably be filed away as a data point for when they finally decide to modernize.

On the other hand if the editor-in-chief is the root cause, the publisher is not likely to overrule the editor-in-chief, and you'll have to convince the EiC. Chances are the EiC has entrenched views of this (as opposed to the publisher who's more likely to simply be doing what they've always been doing), which makes convincing him/her harder. Still, you could try. Be sure to mention you have follow-up work already lined up.

It's unlikely that there'll be negative consequences for trying and failing. Your paper's already accepted; they're not going to rescind it for non-academic reasons.

One thing I would definitely check is whether you are permitted to upload preprints. You mention there's an embargo, but quite often the embargo is only on the accepted manuscript. You can still post preprints. Some publishers (e.g. Elsevier) allow you to post the accepted manuscript as well, on a non-commercial personal homepage or blog.

Edit: based on that paragraph, negotiation is the only way out, because they're preventing you from making anything else publicly available. If you have transferred your copyright then they can actually publish without your consent now (still, they might let you withdraw anyway as a gesture of goodwill). You say you haven't signed any copyright transfer, but that's not sufficient; the journal might have policies that say the copyright is automatically transferred upon acceptance or even upon submission. You'll have to check. If you haven't transferred the copyright, then you could withdraw and submit elsewhere. It's a decision you'll have to make.


I am tackling here a different "side" of the question. Most other answers talk about making the earlier (accepted, but not yet published) paper available to the general audience. This is a proper thing to do and needs to be considered. But what about the next manuscript?

What has been sometimes done with two manuscripts in different journals that depend on each other, is: while you submit the second manuscript to a journal, provide the first one to the reviewers as a supplementary material for review. It is confidential, it is not a public availability, should be fine.

So, basically, when submitting the next manuscript, additionally show the previous one.

Notice, however, that I know of this practice with a submitted manuscript. You seem to have a post-review manuscript (or even a camera-ready version, depending on how it is seem and whom you ask). I am not quite sure, you are allowed to distribute that to other reviewers, but you can at least show the initial, pre-review manuscript to the reviewers. Explaining in a letter to editor that it is accepted, but you provide a version you are sure, you are allowed to provide, might be helpful, too.

Oh, and about citing: You can cite it as "User102868, "On foo, bar, and biz", Awe. J., to appear" or "... in press". This is somewhat a bad style, but it's little you can do, if you do not retract the article all together.

And yeah, for the rest of us: such an issue is precisely the reason arXiv exists. So, use it. Please. But, as always, ask your supervisor / your coauthors first!

  • The difficulty with your last paragraph is that some journals - notably Nature - frown upon handling papers already on the arxiv as it “kills” the novelty factor once the paper is published. Of course Nature Publishing are primarily looking after their $$ interest but still. Other “high impact” journals also follow the same model of giving 2 strikes to papers available on arxiv or elsewhere... Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 20:22
  • Yeah, that's the asking part. For most journals / publishers there is a statement if they are Ok with "preprint servers" or not. And of course, this needs to be checked before submitting to arXiv or whatever. My point in the last paragraph was rather that coauthors might not want it, too. Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 22:08

No, I don't think there is any way for you to negotiate to get the paper published earlier as you have already agreed to the publishers terms and conditions (by signing the acceptance agreement). In your situation you now have two options:

  1. Formally withdraw the paper from the journal (get official proof of withdrawal) and submit it to another journal. This is technically possible but now you run the risk of an additional long period for your paper to undergo review at the new journal. There is also the additional risk that it would be rejected at the other journal (and obviously you can no longer submit it to the original journal since you withdrew it) so you would then have to start the process at a third journal.
  2. Check to see if can document your preprint. In some cases you are allowed to host the preprint on Arxiv. When I say preprint I specifically mean the version of the paper that you had before you submitted it to the journal and before any peer review and/or correspondence with the journal editor and/or reviewer took place. This original manuscript is not subject to the terms and conditions, however the manuscript that you submitted to the journal when it underwent the peer review is actually under copyright so you are not allowed to share that version. As a result you are allowed to document the original preprint in for example your CV or website and include the snippet that this was accepted by Journal X with Manuscript Number Y. You are not allowed to document the version of your manuscript when it was received by the journal. You could site your paper as follows:

J. Smith, ''My paper title'', Journal X, 2021 (accepted manuscript Y)

  • I have not signed any agreement.
    – user102868
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 9:10
  • I understand. In this case you must now make a specific decision to either accept the offer to publish or reject the offer to publish. Until you make a decision either way you are not allowed to do anything as the paper still "belongs" to Journal X until you reject their offer.
    – user117549
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 9:15

Talk to your university’s legal department about how much you need to change to post a “preprint” copy elsewhere.

This sounds like the sort of question that you’d need to talk to an IP lawyer about, with the text of any relevant contracts in hand. Fortunately, universities generally have legal departments that address these sorts of issues as their job. I’d recommend talking to the team at your institution.

  • Not sure why I’m being downvoted for “ask you university’s lawyers since they’ll know what the actual legal rules you have to follow will be”.
    – nick012000
    Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 19:12
  • I am not a downvoter, but probably because you are talking about IP, which is in the eyes of most people about some product. The question was about paper publishing. I have not heard about any instance of university IP layers (basically, something going in the direction of "patent lawsuit") helping to negotiate better publication terms of research papers. They appear to be in different worlds. Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 18:03

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