I had submitted a manuscript to an Elsevier Journal in February 9, 2016. Usually it takes time of around 1 week to get the manuscript number assigned something like XXXX-D-16-XXX and status changes from "Submitted to Journal" to something else like "With Editor".

However, after waiting for 1.5 months, it didn't change and no number is assigned. Hence, I mailed to the Elsevier support. They replied with as usual "we forwarded your query to journal manager...". I waited for 15 more days. I mailed again. No reply from journal side. The mailing happened 3-4 times with follow-ups and remainders, but, it was only from my side. Still no response from Journal.

I also sent mail to chief editors very politely and waited for status to come from their side. But, after 10 more days of waiting no response came.

I sent final mail stating that "We are withdrawing our manuscript."

Is this type of behavior expected from reputed publisher like Elsevier. One research student can't waste 3 months of time biting nail to get the manuscript number or a response.

Please do help with your suggestions? What should I do? Should I submit to another journal? Please note that I have not yet obtained the confirmation of my manuscript withdrawn from the journal.

This is not a duplicate question. I searched thoroughly academia.SE before posting question.

  • 1
    This is a completely different questions as suggested by you sir. I have asked question about withdrawl of paper from journal in such situation. I didn't ask about the process flow of journal which I know already being reviewer of few top journals. @jakebeal
    – Coder
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 20:09
  • Can you please refine your question then, as I am unclear on what you are asking. The possible-duplicate link answers your question: "Is this type of behavior expected from reputed publisher like Elsevier?" (No). As for: "Should I submit to another journal?", how else can you get your paper published if you have withdrawn it?
    – jakebeal
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 20:21
  • 1
    Sir, the problem is I have not yet get confirmation of my withdrawl message from the journal side yet. The Elsevier support told the same thing again "We are forwarding mail to journal manager..." and I am sure the journal will not reply. Should I submit the paper to another better journal? @jakebeal
    – Coder
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 20:26
  • Did you talk to the editor-in-chief of the journal directly, or just the Elsevier support?
    – mdd
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 20:32
  • Yes. I have mailed directly to the two chief editors. But got NO response. Moreover, the status date and the status remains the same. I had also a communication with "Manager of the Journal Manager", but same reply "you will get reply from Journal Manager..." which is of no help. Thanks.@mdiener
    – Coder
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 20:34

2 Answers 2


This situation is indeed not normal, and it sounds like you've hit your tolerance limit with this particular journal. You've done your best to communicate, and now your paper has been withdrawn even if the journal has not recognized this fact.

Why do I say this? The fact is, that until you've signed over a transfer of copyright to a journal, the paper is not theirs. In the typical Elsevier publication process, you don't sign that transfer until much later, so your manuscript is entirely yours right now, not the journal's. As such, you've withdrawn it and should do whatever you wish with it at this point (i.e., submit it to a better journal).

Now, it's possible that this problematic journal will do something else strange at this point, like send it out to reviewers despite the fact that you've withdrawn it. If that happens, though it is not your problem. If that happens and you find out about it, then hey, they've actually communicated with you, and you have another excellent opportunity to remind them that you have withdrawn your paper.

The only possible ethical problem is if they send it out for review, you get the reviews, and then you reverse your decision to withdraw the paper: then you would be changing your situation to having effectively done a parallel submission (to this journal and wherever you go next), which is almost always considered improper. Stick by your decision to withdraw, and you are fine.

  • 1
    Dear sir, I can't express how much relaxed I am after this answer of yours. Yes, I "will" stick to my decision. I understand the publication ethics and COPE guidelines.
    – Coder
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 20:38
  • 2
    You don't want the journal saying that you didn't properly notify them of the withdrawl. You should make every reasonable effort to inform them. To be safe, make sure to notify them in multiple ways i.e. use all the possible contact points. (email multiple addresses, call them, send them snail mail, create another submission that just says the previous submission is withdrawn) Ideally you should be able to prove that you withdrew the paper if anything ever comes up.
    – Thomas
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 22:03
  • I have done a lot of time, sir. Let see what happens. @Thomas
    – Coder
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 20:54

This is a very surprising situation, and definitely not normal. Withdrawing the manuscript is the appropriate answer here.

I encountered a similar situation recently, and in the end, after 2 months, sent an email to the editor-in-chief to request that our manuscript be withdrawn from consideration. In our case, we got a very quick answer from the editor and a positive decision was made in less than a week. What had happened was that the journal was in the process of being sold to a new publisher, and this had led to problems with follow up and communication between authors and journal staff.

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