33

I want your opinion on this issue. I submitted a paper to Journal A. It had been with the editor for two months without being sent to peer review. So, I sent a withdrawal email to the editor. I waited for few days to get an email back, but I thought it is already done since I informed them. Then, I sent the paper to Journal B. It was sent to peer review after two days of submission.

Recently, I checked the online submission system of journal A, and they did not withdraw the paper, they actually sent it to peer review four days ago (three months from submission to intitiang peer review, which is too long in my field); I noticed that they have a new editor. Now, the paper is under review in two journals, which I know it is misconduct, but I assumed that the paper was withdrawn because I sent an email requesting that. What do you think I should do?

  • 8
    Perhaps waiting "only" 2 months was your error. Journals don't work as fast as you might like. – Solar Mike Aug 25 at 17:25
  • 15
    It didn't even pass the intial screening by the editor in two months. It was sent for review after three months. In my field, it is indeed long. This is the first time it took that long m – Doctoralstudent Aug 25 at 17:36
  • 10
    @Doctoralstudent There is a pandemic going on, which may have been a factor in the delay – user2768 Aug 26 at 9:00
  • 4
    This happened to me. I only discovered Journal A had failed to withdraw when they sent me a rejection letter, a long time after Journal B had published it. – Stephen Montgomery-Smith Aug 26 at 14:53
  • 4
    This isn't misconduct. It is a mistake – Scott Seidman Aug 27 at 0:11
74

Contact the editor for Journal A immediately, sending a copy of the withdrawal request you sent previously, and ask them to complete the withdrawal because you have submitted it elsewhere after the original withdrawal. Be polite.

I would at the same time check whether there is any way to withdraw the paper through the online submission system, and do that as well. Your email may have been missed.

It might be worth giving Journal B a heads-up, too. I don't think you've done anything wrong here except perhaps for not following up with the withdrawal when you didn't get a response, and therefore making the situation clear is best for you.

| improve this answer | |
47

This isn't misconduct: You submitted a paper, the journal failed to act,* and you withdrew. You then submitted the paper to another journal.

There was no dual-submission, no misconduct (on your part).

Nonetheless, you should notify the first journal that the paper was withdrawn. You should also notify the second journal that you previously withdraw from the first, yet the first journal proceeded without your knowledge nor consent, and you've now reminded them that you withdrew.

What you want to avoid is any accusation of misconduct.

*I don't personally think two months is an outrageous delay.

| improve this answer | |
  • 6
    For an editor to send out a withdrawn paper for review is (if intentional) misconduct since it wastes reviewers' time. – Anonymous Physicist Aug 26 at 4:05
  • 1
    @AnonymousPhysicist +1 Indeed, I meant on the OP's part. I've edited to clarify. – user2768 Aug 26 at 8:59
  • 1
    If the withdrawal requests are to be processed through the online submission only, it would be possible to argue that misconduct has occurred as submitting withdrawal requests via improper channel is equivalent to lack of submission. For the lack of better example, the email could go to spam folder of recipient or be blocked by internal email system. There are also security implications to consider? Could someone set up an email address and ask for random papers to be withdrawn? A sensible and efficient way to handle such requests would be via online system that supports authentication. – Konrad Aug 26 at 15:07
  • 7
    @Konrad Machines haven't been handed power and email communication is acceptable. (Just like email can be manipulated, a submission system can be too.) – user2768 Aug 26 at 15:39

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.