I submitted my research paper (which I conducted under a collaboration contract between multiple institutes) to a journal with an expected timeline of 48 days from initial submission to publication. However, my paper is still listed as "awaiting reviewer assignment" even though it has been 4 months since the submission. I had assured the partner institution that the research paper would be published within the contract period, and as this period is concluding this month, I am concerned about meeting that commitment.
Due to this unexpectedly prolonged timeline, I am considering retracting my article from the submission. However, I am apprehensive about the potential impact on both my reputation and that of the other authors. Could you please advise me on how to communicate my intention to withdraw the manuscript to the journal's editor, citing these extenuating circumstances?