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I have received a decision letter with a rejection. The letter contained two reports recommending publication and two reports, with negative comments, which have nothing to do with the manuscript, and possibly belonging to another manuscript and were submitted to me by mistake.

I have contacted the Editor in Chief about it two days ago, explaining the situation and requesting further explanation.

I'm afraid that if I submit to another journal, I may get a response from the editor in chief and miss the chance of the paper getting published.

So, how long should I wait before submitting the paper to another journal?

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    By "two days ago", do you mean on Saturday? I don't know where in the world the editor is, but in many parts of the world Saturday and Sunday are weekend so the editor would not necessarily read or respond to their professional email.
    – Marc
    Sep 12 at 21:16

3 Answers 3

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From your description, there is a clear error and contacting the editor-in-chief is the right thing and it sounds like you should have a reasonable chance at having the decision reversed. The question is how to long to wait for a response.

Now, people may be on vacation. People may be sick. People have to grade exams and homework. They may have a family emergency. So give people a reasonable chance to reply before you walk away. Most of the time, people respond within 2-3 weeks even if they are on vacation for some time, so that seems to be a reasonable time frame to me. You worrying about not getting a response after two days (which, on top of that, were weekend days!) seems entirely too quick to me.

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    I agree with you, when it is a normal thing. But here the matter is a mishap, not a regular process. So I agree with OP about reaching quickly the editor, before the folder of this review is closed definitely, going to the archive of rejected paper (visualize it like the depot where all the strange manufacts are stored in Indiana jones: the lost ark youtu.be/FRP0MBNoieY?t=70 ) and If you try to reach the editor by phone (not private phone, purely by office phone or whatever Microsofts surrogate they are using) you would easily discover if the editor is on vacation. sick or very busy.
    – EarlGrey
    Sep 12 at 20:00
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    I don't disagree with writing to the editor quickly -- and in fact, I take it that OP has actually done that. But you shouldn't just walk away from the process just because the editor may not be willing to read their emails over the weekend, or is on vacation. Let them have a life too! Sep 13 at 2:59
  • If you call an office in the weekend, you realize how foolish it is to expect an answer in the weekend, because you will wait forever for an answer. If you write an email, you will be even foolisher thinking the other will answer during the weekned. My point is not about weekend or whatsnot, my point is that the email is the slowest way to reach someone, and it is totally fine, but the phone call is the quickest way to reach someone ESPECIALLY BECAUSE NO ONE ANSWERS THE PHONE DURING WEEKEND AND HOLIDAYS. By phone you get thing done quickly, when they have to be done (during office hourse).
    – EarlGrey
    Sep 13 at 7:42
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Since you received a clear rejection, you can submit elsewhere immediately. You don't need to wait. If you want to argue with them that the rejection may have been a mistake, then you should wait until that is resolved.

If you didn't get a rejection, but an offer to resubmit, or that is the resolution of any continued discussion, then before you submit to another journal, you first (first!) have to withdraw it from the current journal. You can do that with an email, which, after being sent, lets you submit elsewhere immediately. You don't really need to wait for a reply, since you are in control of your own copyrightable material. It is courteous to wait, but not essential.

But submitting to another journal while still under consideration by the first is a protocol violation (whatever that means), and perhaps an ethical one.

But your case seems clear that you can submit where and when you choose. The paper is yours.

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Phone call the company during office hours[1], try to talk in person with the editor. An email is way too cumbersome, and slow, for such an urgent matter.

You clearly have all the rights to question the editor.

[1] your case is urgent, among the urgent things to be done by the editor in their duties as an editor. Do not expect answer to your email during the night/weekend/holidays, but expect an answer to phone call performed during office hours.

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