I have written one paper on mathematics and submitted it to 5 journals concurrently. Four of them accepted the paper and one asked to send the paper in their required format.

The paper contains one theorem and two applications. There was two argument gaps in the proof of the theorem. Only one journal caught that.

I have communicated with that journal and updated the paper throughout as below:

  1. Changed the proof of the theorem entirely ,i.e. an alternative proof is provided, there is no similarity between the two proofs of the theorem.

  2. Remove one of the applications and add a new application of that theorem.

  3. Changed the way of applying of the theorem for the other application i.e firstly there was case distinction for the application, but later I removed the case distinction.

this paper is published in that journal and I have transferred the copyright agreement form to them and withdrawn the paper from other journals stating personal reasons. I am an amateur mathematician and I'm not pursuing any Phd degree.

Now my question is that what are the impacts may fall on the published paper in that journal as I have withdrawn all other manuscripts and they don't have the copy right agreement also, so is there any chances to claim the published article by them or they can force the editor of the journal which published the paper to retract the paper ?

  • 20
    I do not fully understand the question is the last line but: Since you did not adhere to the journal's policies (which, almost surely, state you shall not submit something that is submitted elsewhere), they may well retract your paper. Multiple submission are a serious academic felony.
    – Dirk
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 9:22
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    By the was: I did not downvote. I think it is a legitimate question and one shall not downvote it to express "what you did way wrong". This can be done by upvoting the respective answer.
    – Dirk
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 10:33
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    "I have written one paper on mathematics and submitted it to 5 journals concurrently". Very naughty. Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 11:44
  • 3
    It sounds from the edited question like you are worried that the other journals might be able to force the publisher to retract the article. They can't, but the worry instead is that the publisher might want to retract it if they knew the facts. Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 12:57
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    I'm also puzzled by the timing of the four acceptances. Usually, there's a lot of delay and randomness in how long it takes to referee a paper. If you kept the article in submission for a substantial period of time as the acceptances gradually came in, then that will upset the publishers/editors even more. (On the other hand, if all four were quick, then either you got really lucky, your paper is exceptionally easy to referee, or you didn't choose respectable journals and they didn't referee it seriously.) Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 13:05

2 Answers 2


Whatever you do in the future: do not submit the same manuscript to multiple (not even two) journals.

If you have managed to get the manuscript accepted in one journal you need to immediately withdraw all others. You state you have given "personal reasons" whereas in reality you should have provided a serious excuse to the journals for wasting their time.

If you have withdrawn all other manuscripts there should not be any further impact on the one accepted for publication. You should learn from the experience and perhaps acquaint yourself better with the publication process so as to avoid mistakes such as these again. If repeated, it may affect you adversely by gaining a bad reputation or possibly being "banned" from certain journals by their editors. So most negative impacts, if any, will fall on you.

  • Thank you for providing valuable information. I have withdrawn all other manuscripts and they don't have the copy right agreement also, so is there any chances to claim the published article or they can force the editor of the journal which published the paper to retract the paper ? This journal which published this paper has the copy right agreement form. Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 10:36
  • @SureshSharma they certainly cannot claim the published article, but they still might publish it, depending on how trustworthy the are; and they certainly cannot force an editor of a different journal to retract the paper, but those might still do that - see my answer.
    – bers
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 10:56

First, a related question is How is it in my best interest not to submit a paper to two journals simultaneously?

Second, if any double publication occurs, you are screwed. I would agree that since the other journals do not have a signed copyright agreement from you, they should not be allowed to publish the paper, even though they accepted it for publication. However, this has happened in the past, and it led to the duplicate submission being retracted:

The two corresponding authors of the two published articles claimed that the problem arose from a mistake: the Scholarly Journal of Biological Science had asked for a publication fee that the authors could not pay. Believing that the journal would therefore return their manuscript, they submitted the manuscript to our journal. [...] We therefore decided to retract the article from our journal on the grounds of duplicate publication, informed the Editor of Scholarly Journal of Biological Science of the situation, told the authors about our decision to retract the article, and—considering their actions—reported the misconduct to their institutions.

(Journal runs retraction, editorial over duplicate submission of pathology paper, https://retractionwatch.com/2015/02/17/journal-runs-retraction-editorial-duplicate-submission/)

In some cases, both papers are retracted, which I feel should be the standard for double submissions. https://retractionwatch.com/2013/06/18/double-submission-leads-to-retraction-of-probability-paper-and-a-publishing-ban/

So keep your fingers crossed that all the other journals honor your withdrawal "for personal reasons".

Third, assuming no double publication will ever take place, the issue of double submission: they still can take action against you, and maybe your paper. It certainly depends (well, not so much - see below) on what you the journals asked you during submission and what you told them.

Many journals nowadays expect an implicit or explicit confirmation by the author(s) that their work not been submitted (well, meaning it is not under consideration) elsewhere at the same time. Some expect you to include that confirmation in the cover letter and/or the manuscript, and if you did not add it there, you may be fine. But some may also have a mandatory checkbox in the submission system; some may have it in their author instructions or ethical guidelines, which you implicitly accept by submitting your manuscript. Either way, chances are very high that at least one of your five journals has such a requirement, which you failed to adhere to.

Thus, assuming you have made any such false statement, you may be in danger of being banned from these journals - this has happened in the past:

One week after it was published, the editors of journal B contacted our journal stating that this work, with the exact same title, authors and content, had been submitted to journal B and, after receiving an acceptance letter, the author withdrew the paper, informing them that it had been accepted by a different journal.

When the editor of journal B asked the author for an explanation, the author did not provide a satisfactory response. Journal B, in consultation with their editorial board, banned the author from submitting to the journal in the future.

(COPE case 17-20, ongoing; from https://publicationethics.org/case/consequence-dual-submission)

[While you see some going back and forth about submission dates in the above link: these are very often printed in the published paper, so any editor of your four other journals will be able to determine that you submitted concurrently.]

Also, an expression of concern might be published next to your published paper:

The Forum agreed this is still a case of duplicate submission and that there has been possible misconduct on the part of the authors. Although there is only one copy of the paper in the literature, the Forum advised the editor to consider publishing an expression of concern to alert readers to this.

(COPE case 12-30, ongoing; from https://publicationethics.org/case/retraction-first-article-case-duplicate-publication)

(very similar: COPE case 15-40; https://publicationethics.org/case/duplicate-publication-and-removal-article)

I have yet to find a case of a singly-published paper being retracted for dual submission, although I would not be surprised if that happened, given that both papers of a dual publication can be retracted (see above). However, one of the links above (I would have to find that passage again) says that retractions should be made to correct the literature, not to punish" - and if there is no literature correction to be made on the grounds of double publications, my guess is that your paper is safe.

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