I submitted an article around 11 months ago to a SCI journal and another article around 5 months ago in another SCI journal. The second article cited the first article which was under review for 6 months at the time of submission of second article. Recently, we got acceptance letter for 2nd article while 1st article is still under review. What action should we take? remove the citation in 2nd article and cite the 2nd article in 1st article or we stay with the current situation. but what if our 1st article got rejection?

  • 2
    I don't think the "self-plagiarism" tag is appropriate. It is not self-plagiarism to cite another paper you have written
    – Darren Ong
    Dec 5, 2016 at 5:05
  • 5
    Can you post a public preprint of the first article? If so, then you can simply cite the preprint. Dec 5, 2016 at 23:51
  • It would be helpful to know what field you’re in, since citation culture is very field-dependent. In my field (mathematical logic), it’s accepted and reasonably common for preprints to be cited before even being submitted. But I have friends in experimental sciences who are shocked by this — in their fields, it’s unacceptable for published work to cite anything not yet peer-reviewed.
    – PLL
    Dec 6, 2016 at 11:14
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    @NateEldredge I just confirmation from editor office that I can submit preprint of article in arxiv. I think you suggested a good solution. Thanks
    – Mohaqiq
    Dec 7, 2016 at 4:43

3 Answers 3


If I understand correctly, this is your situation:

  • Paper 1 was submitted for review 11 months ago
  • Paper 2 was submitted for review six months later.
  • Paper 2 was accepted for publication. Paper 1 is still under review.

Presumably, Paper 2 cites Paper 1 as being "submitted". The present version of Paper 1 does not cite Paper 2 because Paper 2 was not in existence when Paper 1 was submitted.

Are these correct? If so, here are some thoughts about your questions:

Should you continue to cite Paper 1 in Paper 2?

I would. The fact that Paper 1 is still under review is out of your control. In fact, its final disposition is also up in the air. Nevertheless, Paper 2 uses information derived from Paper 1, hence the need to cite it. That Paper 2 was accepted with the citation to Paper 1 is important evidence that the reviewers and the editors thought that it was appropriate, despite the "submitted" tag.

Should you remove the citation of Paper 1 in Paper 2?

I wouldn't do this, unless there was a material change in your manuscript. If the parts of Paper 2 that depend on Paper 1 were lost in revision, then fine. However, it is not a good idea to eliminate references simply because of publication status.

Should you cite Paper 2 in Paper 1?

You should only cite papers that support your statements. Frivolously citing one paper of yours just because it was published is a rather trivial reason. However, if you genuinely feel that Paper 2 has substantial contributions to Paper 1, then this should be fine. You would do this in the revision stage. Be aware, though, that alert editorial staff may review this change with skepticism.

If you retain the citation of Paper 1 in Paper 2 and Paper 1 gets rejected, then what happens?

Generally, there's nothing you can do about this. Journals still operate as if the manuscripts were static entities. That is to say, once a final version has been approved at the galley stage, no changes can be made. Paper 1 will always be cited in Paper 2 as being "submitted" in perpetuity. There are some publishing models now that account for this fluidity in publication status, although there are not widespread, and rather experimental. Say, for example, that you cited the work of Doorman (2014) and your work was published in 2015. In 2016, Doorman was found to have committed research misconduct and his 2014 publication was retracted because all the data were fabricated. Well, your 2015 publication would still cite Doorman 2014. There are no easy solutions to this issue as yet.

Good luck.


If the second article depends in some substantive way in the material from the first, the second should cite the first, according to the journal's policy for material under review. (Different journals tend to handle such matters in different ways.) If there is no real dependence, I would suggest omitting the citation, and having the first paper, when it gets published, cite the second.

Having each paper cite the others might be deemed less than optimal, but that does happen. If you don't have a problem with the circular citation arrangement, I would include a citation to the second, published article in the first, even if the second already cites the first.


The traditional method to avoid these messes was to refer to any work as forthcoming until such a time as the work having definitely and definitively entered the literature. So yes, it did happen that certain papers were eternally immortalised as "forthcoming" - and as a reader you could be in for a bit of detective work (this was back when you had to physically schlepp to an actual brick and mortar library). A fun and not infrequent intermediate case arose when a promise was made or a claim was staked for the forthcoming paper, which, once it did come forth, was never made good on! Preprints were always a patchwork solution (as physical copies could be hard to track down), but luckily now we have archiv, BioArchiv and the like. Authors' personal webpages may help, but beware, as different authors may link to different versions of the work.

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