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I am stuck in an unfortunate situation caused by a journal and its editorial team. I have an accepted article through a special issue of a journal and the article is now in early access. My paper has gone into multiple rounds of peer review which took over 12 months. I received an email from the EiC that they received an allegation of misconduct in the special issue and that he needs to verify the review process of papers in the special issue. After about 4 months, he emailed that they decided to cancel the entire special issue and therefore rejected all papers. He also mentioned that the early access papers may be removed. I am furious and not sure why authors should pay for the technical incompetency of the journal editors in handling the papers. I am not sure what paper removal means. Does it leave the paper metadata online? Can I resubmit my paper elsewhere? What are my rights and available options here?

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  • Is it an open access journal so you have to pay to publish? Do they have refund policy?
    – scaaahu
    Feb 27 at 11:12
  • It is not open access. It is an IEEE Journal. I don't want to be defamed for something which is clearly their problem not mine.
    – Selestine
    Feb 27 at 11:24
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    What do you mean by technical incompetence? And what was the finding regarding the charge of misconduct?
    – henning
    Feb 27 at 11:24
  • My guess is the editors may have assigned reviewers who were not credible but it is not clear which papers were under allegation and the journal was not clear enough. From their email, EiC emailed all authors of accepted papers. I think the problem was for multiple papers and hence EiC decided to cancel the entire SI.
    – Selestine
    Feb 27 at 11:27
  • You might go for the standard issue, at least it should be possible for some of the papers. If not all. Or get it back and submit elsewhere.
    – Alchimista
    Feb 28 at 10:33
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If you gave up your copyright then get it back. If you still hold copyright then you can publish it elsewhere.

Even if the issue weren't cancelled, but they put out a call for additional papers to replace the removed ones, the time to "print" would probably be about the same for you as submitting to a different journal.

It is unfortunate (and maddening), but it may not be the journal at fault here. There isn't enough information to judge. And there is no ethical violation provided that you haven't given them something of value that you can't get back. They just may not have a suitable place for your paper.

It is also unlikely that anyone else will "blame" you for the fiasco, but it will help to get the paper published in a reputable place.

Just make sure you have the copyright. All else will flow from that.

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  • Thank you for the quick answer. In this journal, they got copyright when we submitted the initial paper. I've just checked the status of the paper online. It says reject. before the status was with the EiC as he didn't export the final papers. My concern is that the paper is in early access and it has a doi. Will there be a note on the paper's link if they remove it. I don't want to be defamed for something which was not my fault.
    – Selestine
    Feb 27 at 12:03
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    Talk to the editor. They should have an incentive to make it right. And formally request the return of all rights.
    – Buffy
    Feb 27 at 12:12
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    Return of rights, one thing. Perhaps ask to be fast-tracked for regular review, outside of special issue. The time loss is significant. Feb 27 at 15:06
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    @CaptainEmacs, yes, that would provide an excellent result. Always good to ask.
    – Buffy
    Feb 27 at 15:20
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    Surprising to me that this is an IEEE journal. Or should I not be surprised?
    – davidbak
    Feb 27 at 22:06

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