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I submitted a paper to an Elsevier journal in August and the status has been "with editor" ever since. I was concerned that it had not been sent for review for 4 months and I sent inquiries twice without getting any response. I am wondering if I should just withdraw my paper?

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    It's worth keeping in mind that the editorial system's status messages can be inscrutable, and even a paper that's under review may not be listed as such. (Some editors recruit reviewers without going through the website, because they find it cumbersome. Furthermore, even if the editor issues review requests through the website, reviewers may reply to the editor by e-mail without bothering to click on the web link, and the editorial system will think they never replied. Some editors fix this by hand, while others don't bother.) But getting no reply to an inquiry is more worrisome. – Anonymous Mathematician Dec 12 '14 at 2:16
  • thanks for the explanation, it is actually a math journal. The system directs all the inquiries to a staff of the journal and so I do not really know which editor handles it. Otherwise I could contact the editor directly. – ljl Dec 12 '14 at 2:24
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    Just a note on terminology: Removing an article from consideration during the peer review phase, while "in press", or any other time before publication, is commonly called withdrawal. Retraction usually refers to withdrawing an article after it is published. (See e.g.) – ff524 Dec 12 '14 at 5:15
  • I had a similar issue with a math journal which is considered good, but at the time had some issues with management. There should be a managing editor listed that you can contact directly. If the managing editor doesn't get back to you within a couple of weeks or so, it's probably reasonable to withdraw your paper (I didn't, but the whole process ended up being pretty slow, which is to say, normal for math journals). – Kimball Dec 12 '14 at 6:48
  • I agree, math journals are typically slow. In fact, I completely understand that the reviewing process may take a while, but I am very concerned that the paper is simply with the editor for more than four months. – ljl Dec 12 '14 at 14:14
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It's possible that the editor it was assigned to has left the journal. Call them on the phone and then call another editor of that journal. It's definitely odd for it to have fallen through the cracks like that.

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