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It is a very important journal in the field. My paper is a letter explaining that an article previously published in that journal had a mistake, and that the correction reverts the result. The paper was accepted in September 2019. It seems that the editor does not like that my paper has evidence of a mistake in the journal. I considered complaining to the company that publishes the journal. Can anybody recommend an attorney to assist me, and maybe to legally defend me? I have been waiting for a long time now and they have the copyrights.

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    What's a usual backlog for this journal? (I know a few journals that take more than 4 years from acceptance to publication.) Nov 8, 2023 at 2:30
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    I would certainly go through your institution's legal resources before finding a random attorney for yourself. (Not that it's necessarily time to do that, just if you need to learn what your rights are)
    – Bryan Krause
    Nov 8, 2023 at 2:31
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    WHO EXACTLY have you been emailing about this? If it is only your editor, then send an email to the editor in chief. Or try contacting some other member of the editorial board before contacting the publisher. I very strongly suggest that you assume an honest error, rather than that the editor is trying to suppress your paper - that will not work in academia, and your editor knows it, and most editors (especially at "better" journals) are mature and well-respected people in their fields. Better to try other avenues before actions that might leave you looking bad. Nov 8, 2023 at 6:52
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    Please be mindful of Hanlon's razor before interpreting "my paper hasn't been published" as "someone's trying to hide the truth from the world", and especially before reacting with legal threats.
    – Sneftel
    Nov 8, 2023 at 14:01
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    "It seems that the editor does not want that my paper put in evidence a mistake of the journal." This sounds like a very unlikely motivation. @CaptainEmacs In my case (just 2 years) it was a backlog of accepted papers waiting to be assigned to an issue. The paper was published online quite quickly though. Nov 8, 2023 at 16:47

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Seems to me that the most probable explanation of this is that the editorial board member who made the 'accept' decision is unfamiliar with the system, hence the 'accept' decision did not actually go through (e.g. it should've reached the editor-in-chief, but it didn't). If the 'accept' decision reached the publisher, it would be extremely improbable that the publisher does not publish it.

So, make sure that everything is actually working as it should. Ask another member of the editorial board, perhaps the editor-in-chief, to check what's happening. You can also ask the publisher.

Note no response to email does not mean they're ignoring you - your email could've gone into the spam box, for example.

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    To amplify this answer: the aim is not to get the paper published. The aim is to help the journal be a better journal by publishing the paper. Whoever the OP approaches, if the aim is to work side by side to achieve this, it will almost certainly work better than face to face confrontation. Nov 8, 2023 at 7:53
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    I thank you very much! I will write a kind letter to the editor asking if there was a problem or a mistake.
    – user179063
    Nov 8, 2023 at 23:36
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Call the editor. Quit using email and call. Be polite and just ask to trace the submission. Nothing beats having direct communication and getting as many facts as possible.

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I would send an email to the editor in chief of the journal or the publication team. Depending on the amount of back processing required, publication in a journal can take years, based on what I've read. However, you have to pose some, perhaps rhetorical, questions to yourself. Do you have documentation of your submission and approval? What is said by your colleagues, university, or supervisor? You also need to account for the actual time frame that takes from submission to publication. Publication involves numerous steps. The submission of the article comes first, followed by peer review and journal publication. In all academic fields, the average time from the moment you submit your manuscript until you receive a firm decision is one year. It takes an average of six months more after your article is accepted before it is published.It's important to use caution when wording your response to avoid coming across as conceited or biased. It is highly recommended that you consider the possibility of an honest mistake instead of the editor attempting to censor your work. Keep thinking positive.

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    In all academic fields, the average time from the moment you submit your manuscript until you receive a firm decision is one year. It takes an average of six months more after your article is accepted before it is published. – That statement is wrong in this generality. There are fields and publishers where the average time to the final decision is a few months and the time to (online) publication from then is a month. Of course you can take a grand average over all of academia, but that information is barely relevant to anybody and nothing to base any advice on.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Nov 8, 2023 at 15:18
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    I thank you all very much! I will write a kind letter to the editor asking if there was a problem or a mistake.
    – user179063
    Nov 8, 2023 at 23:36
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If you feel uncomfortable to call, another approach would be sending a letter via the ordinary mail. Stop using E mail. Spam is very abundant now and some filters may be aggressive enough to drop your message without any obvious reason.

Staff change is a likely reason why some decisions have been forgotten. If they have changed they mind, should have notified you.

Never wait for as long as four years.

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