I have submitted a paper more than a year ago, but still I haven't heard anything back from the editor. As of today I have no idea whether my paper has been accepted/rejected or is in a review stage. Only thing I know is that it has been received, for a got a confirmation of this soon after the submission. Needless to say that I've tried several times to get in contact with the editor to find out about my paper's fate, but I got not a single reply to my status update requests. What should you do in a case like this? I was thinking of writing to the editor again to let him know that I'm withdrawing the paper from him and submitting to someone else? Is this a good idea? Are there other paths one might walk down to?

  • Happened to me during my postdoc. Produced one paper; got a one-paragraph rejection letter after 18 months in review; bye bye academic career.
    – Flounderer
    Feb 3, 2014 at 21:46
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    This is very bad publishing practice. I understand that you don't want to reveal yourself by telling us which one it is, but I think this sort of behavior should be reported to colleagues. I would stay away from such a journal.
    – Cape Code
    Feb 3, 2014 at 21:59

3 Answers 3


If the editor isn't responding, it's time to escalate. The journal's web page should give contact info for an editor-in-chief and/or a managing editor. Contact one or both of them and let them know that you would like an update on the status of your paper, but cannot get a response from the handling editor (include dates of submission, dates you sent emails, etc). They should take care of the situation.

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    "They should take care of the situation." they should, but they don't always. Some journals are just awful and managed so poorly.
    – StrongBad
    Feb 3, 2014 at 14:46
  • The only contact I had so far is indeed with the Editor-in-chief. The story goes like this: I submit the paper before Christmas; for some reasons I get no reply to that. I then rewrite after a few weeks into the new year (2013) and finally the Editor-in-chief tells me that he has received and filed to the appropriate branch said paper. After several months of absolute silence I decide to write to the Editor-in-chief to get an update, but I get no reply. I wrote him again after a couple of months, but with the same result. Meanwhile a year has passed.
    – Phoenix87
    Feb 3, 2014 at 15:23
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    So have you tried contacting the handling editor at all, or have you always gone straight to the editor-in-chief?
    – Tara B
    Feb 3, 2014 at 16:03
  • So far I've been trying to reach the Editor-in-chief of the appropriate section. Just to be clear, what do you mean by handling/managing editor? Is he/she the person in charge of the publisher company?
    – Phoenix87
    Feb 3, 2014 at 17:11
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    No, the person in charge of handling your paper specifically (e.g. finding a referee for it). You should hopefully have been told who this is (when I submitted papers, I was asked to nominate an editor from the journal's editorial board, and my paper was always handled by the person I nominated).
    – Tara B
    Feb 3, 2014 at 17:29

Can you get hold of the editor's phone number? I've sometimes found it very effective to call someone when they haven't been replying to emails. However, I've only done this with academics I knew personally. But it still might be worth trying, before you take the fairly major step of withdrawing your paper after more than a year (the advantage of eventually having the paper accepted by the journal you currently have it submitted to is that the date of submission will be on the published paper, and of course this date will be much later if you submit it somewhere else now).

  • Thanks for the advice. Since I'm still fresh about this process, I don't really know how to address the editor. I mean, of course it is in my own interest to have the paper published, but maybe mentioning my intention of withdrawal to him wouldn't constitute a leverage of any kind in my favour? What would the best thing to say/write be in this case? Cheers.
    – Phoenix87
    Feb 3, 2014 at 14:09
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    "I submitted my paper on X date. It's been Y months now since I first submitted it and I have not heard back from the journal. Would you be able to let me know where in the process it is?" Depending on the discussion you might mention that if you don't get feedback in a certain amount of time that you might consider withdrawing it.
    – Irwin
    Feb 3, 2014 at 17:22
  • The content of my many emails to the Editor-in-chief has been so far along the lines of the above comment, except for the part where I should be mentioning my intention of withdrawing the paper. So perhaps my next email will definitely include a hint to my intentions of withdrawal then.
    – Phoenix87
    Feb 4, 2014 at 13:15

(It's an old question yes but would like to give another answer) I would seek to withdraw the paper from the journal with a letter to the editor stating the reasons so. I think there needs to be a time where you've 'waited enough'. For me 1 year is too much but for others, perhaps they have more patience and I think for you to be so patient with your to-and-fro to the journal speaks volumes about your character but it may not be so good for your manuscript.

P.S. What was the final outcome of this?

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    Eventually I got sick of all this publishing pressure nonsense and left academia for good. I know of another paper that my co-authors are still chasing after after 2 years from submission (afaik we don't know if it has been rejected of not). I leave this joy to them.
    – Phoenix87
    Apr 24, 2018 at 16:29
  • Oh my gosh. Thanks for the update and I hope you're happier in another field!
    – MHL
    Apr 24, 2018 at 16:31
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    Thanks. I'm quite enjoy life at the minute, exploring and learning tons of new and useful things. I definitely don't miss the pressure of publishing and the anxiety caused by waiting to hear back from grant panels and alike.
    – Phoenix87
    Apr 24, 2018 at 16:35
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    +1 As a reviewer, in my field, I get deadlines of one to three weeks. On the flip side, I would not tolerate such poor handling from a journal as an author. If there is no significant and communicated progress in the process after about six months I would withdraw and submit elsewhere.
    – Roland
    Apr 25, 2018 at 6:22

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