I am facing an inconvenient situation that I will try to explain as well as I can. Here is my case:

One and a half years ago, I submitted my paper to Journal A. The reviewing process started and I managed to convince three out of four reviewers. All of the reviewers asked the editor to accept my submission. The last reviewer asked me to include an unusual comparison method. I refused to add the non-standard method and the reviewer ask the editor to reject my paper which he did immediately. Being shocked, I wrote an email to the editor asking him to give me a chance to correct the misunderstanding. Not receiving an answer to my email, I decided to submit my paper to Journal B. After a while, the editor of Journal A sent me an email telling me that he has decided to give me another chance. Now, I am facing an unintentional double submission situation. My paper is "With the editor" on Journal B and hasn't yet been sent to the reviewers. Considering that I spent so much time convincing the reviewers of Journal A, I don't want to miss the opportunity of revising my paper in Journal A. Yet, I don't want to mess things up with Journal B because they are a very reputable journal, and I want to work with them in the future.

Now, I want to ask Journal B to freeze my submission to prevent from double submission problem. My problem is that I don't know whether they will understand me or not.

  • How would you recommend that I write an email to them?
  • Is this kind of situation normal?
  • Will they black-list me?
  • Will they understand me if I write them honestly?
  • Will I lose my chance of submitting other papers to any of the Journals?

Both Journals are very reputable journals and I don't want to get into any problems with any of them.

  • 8
    My first impression is that journal A messed up by having weird communication and not sticking to the standard process. If I was the editor at journal B, I would be very sympathetic about your situation. However, what precisely is the nature of the "other chance"? Have you asked for a chance to submit another revision? Aug 15, 2021 at 8:50
  • @lighthousekeeper He has written that I should prepare a comment to the reviewer. Then, he will ask the handling editor to communicate with the reviewer and if needed they will reopen the review.
    – Sajjad
    Aug 15, 2021 at 9:17
  • If the review at journal A would not be reopened by your "other chance", then there's no need to communicate with journal B until you have an acceptance. If you get the acceptance at A, you can withdraw from B, and explain to their editor that journal A went out of the standard process and accepted your paper after earlier rejecting it. Aug 15, 2021 at 9:22
  • 4
    @lighthousekeeper, this is poor advice. You suggest leaving it open with two journals. The answer of Allure is correct and much better advice.
    – Buffy
    Aug 15, 2021 at 10:24
  • 1
    @alephzero I agree with you. I don't want to ride both too. I want to find the best way to ask Journal B to withdraw my submission. I have papers that I want to submit in Journal B later. I don't want to make them angry with me.
    – Sajjad
    Aug 15, 2021 at 21:27

5 Answers 5


Write to journal B and say you are withdrawing. You don't have to give reasons, although you could say the submission was premature if you want to. That's all there is to it.

Nothing much is likely to happen with the second journal, since it's fairly common for manuscripts to be withdrawn. Furthermore the status is "with editor", which means they've done almost nothing to the manuscript yet.

Edit: I would not suggest telling journal B that your paper has been rejected by journal A. See:

[What'd you actually highlight would be]: Your paper has been rejected by another journal before (not a good sign; think of it as "if we publish it now, we're actually publishing another journal's rejects, and we're supposed to be a good journal!!")

  • @Buffy Will I be able to submit my papers to Journal B, if I ask for the withdrawal of my paper out of "premature submission"?
    – Sajjad
    Aug 15, 2021 at 11:15
  • 1
    @Sajjad sure, why not?
    – Allure
    Aug 15, 2021 at 11:21
  • Well, they might think that I wasted their time. I submitted the paper to Journal B on Friday!
    – Sajjad
    Aug 15, 2021 at 11:22
  • 3
    @Sajjad the longer you wait, the more of their time you're going to waste. As I wrote, they've done almost nothing to the manuscript yet.
    – Allure
    Aug 15, 2021 at 11:24
  • You are right. That's why I tried to ask you as soon as I could. Actually, the paper's status changed to "With editor' just today. As I said, I don't want to lose my chance on submitting my next papers to Journal B.
    – Sajjad
    Aug 15, 2021 at 11:27

I think the best is somewhere between the suggestions by Anonymous Physicist and Scott Seidman. Namely, just write to the editor of B and state only the bare facts that are necessary for the editor to know:

Dear Editor, I had submitted paper X to you after receiving a rejection from another journal. However, some time later, they sent me another email saying that they might reconsider their rejection. Due to that, I can no longer proceed with my submission to your journal, and would have to withdraw it. Thank you.

I do not think you should be embarrassed for something you did not do wrong, and it is very important to state that the first journal rejected your submission before you submitted to the second journal.


If you really want to stick with journal A, simply say:

Dear Editor B,

Please withdraw my paper "papername" from consideration. I am sorry for the inconvenience. I am making this request because the editor of another journal has changed their mind.

Do not tell B who A is. Do not resubmit to A until B has confirmed withdrawal.

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    I worry that your formulation leaves the impression that the other journal has accepted the paper. That might not be what you want to convey, especially if it also conveys the impression that it was doubly submitted in the first place. Even less of an explanation might be better.
    – Buffy
    Aug 15, 2021 at 16:49

I'd like to make a point that the other answers aren't touching upon.

You're in a situation, a double submission, that some could interpret as an ethical lapse. Clearly, this was not your intention, and you thought your paper was no longer encumbered by the first journal.

You need to approach this from the perspective of "If this blows up, I may need to be able to show a communication trail to my Dean that clearly shows my trying to resolve the screwup, regardless of the cause of the screwup". The safest way is to assume that down the line, your Dean may be reading every one of your communications on the matter, and thus your communications must put all temptation to investigate further to rest. You need to be clear and unambiguous.

I'd try "Dear Editor B. I submitted the paper to you after receiving communication from Editor A that my submission was no longer under consideration. After that communication was received, I received a message that Editor A revived my review, thus this paper is currently under review by two journals simultaneously. I'm somewhat embarrassed by the situation, and I apologize for the inconvenience, but I would like to withdraw my paper from consideration, and might resubmit it later pending the outcome of my other review."

Collect ALL your communications about this paper to date, along with any response you may receive, and save them.

  • 1
    Should I include journal A's name?
    – Sajjad
    Aug 15, 2021 at 20:14
  • 1
    Nor the editors name. Aug 15, 2021 at 20:42
  • 2
    I still prefer the formulation of @Allure. Any "reason" given could just get in the way. In the worst case, considered to be a "cover up". Keep it simple and clean. But the other advice, of keeping a paper trail, is very good.
    – Buffy
    Aug 15, 2021 at 20:47
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    @AnonymousPhysicist I disagree. Editor A currently thinks it's under review, and Editor B is in the process of scheduling it for review. If the author takes no action at this point, there is a chance that the paper be accepted by both journals. How is that not a double submission, regardless of how it arrived at this point. Moreover, should both journals actually accept the paper, how would you like to be the one making a semantic argument to your chair that it wasn't a double submission? Aug 15, 2021 at 21:29
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    @ScottSeidman No, editor A rejected the paper. Please check the question. "ask the editor to reject my paper which he did immediately." Aug 15, 2021 at 21:56

This is a tough situation, the cause of which is mostly the poor behavior by Journal A. I say "mostly" because of the following point:

Not receiving an answer to my email, I decided to submit my paper to Journal B. After a while, the editor of Journal A sent me an email telling me that he has decided to give me another chance.

It is well known that journals can take a long time to respond to authors' queries (what often seems like -- and probably often is -- too long). To have a conversation like this with an editor, in my experience one must be willing for it to take up to a couple of months. Do you as the author have to wait that long just to continue the conversation? No: you can end it at any time by informing the editor that time constraints have forced you to move on to another journal.

In this case you left your query with Journal A open while submitting to Journal B. Is this a double submission? No, because the status of your paper with Journal A is "rejected." But it does leave the door open for something like this to happen down the road. You probably should have expected to hear something back from the editor eventually; in my experience, that has usually been the case.

Again though, the primary culprit here is Journal A, who seems to be behaving badly: spending a long time processing your paper, rejecting because of a suggestion made by one referee was not followed, while three other referees recommended publication, and then not addressing your concern about this in a timely manner.

I think it is ethical to withdraw from Journal B and resubmit to Journal A. This would be ethical independent of the timing, but because you only submitted to Journal B on Friday -- c'mon, they have not done anything much with your paper since then. I don't think you need to say anything about why you are withdrawing the paper, and I don't think they will ask or care.

I think though that the situation where you withdraw from a second journal to revive business with the first journal is a suboptimal one, to be avoided if possible. I mentioned above what you could have done to avoid this situation and should (I suggest) do next time. I did want to put just one word in for staying with Journal B. I don't know the particulars of your situation: the relative merits of the two journals, how much time you're likely to lose by starting over with your particular paper, and so forth, so staying with Journal A may well be the best decision for you. But again, they've behaved badly. On the one hand, everything else being equal it is best not to reward those who have behaved badly. On the other hand, maybe they will continue to behave badly: it could be that after six months, Journal A decides to re-reject your paper because of the same critique by the same referee, right? You have to decide how likely that is to happen and how you will feel if it does happen.

Good luck.

  • 1
    What you've quoted though follows after "I refused to add the non-standard method and the reviewer ask the editor to reject my paper which he did immediately." so the last communication received from Journal A was a rejection, followed by a lack of reply to the request to reconsider. I wouldn't give Journal A any benefit of the doubt. Aug 16, 2021 at 23:59
  • @David: The problem is that it can be hard to tell how long to wait for a reply from an editor in order to be sure there is a lack of reply. I have gotten replies after up to two months. Aug 17, 2021 at 17:36

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