I wonder whether we can withdraw a manuscript after its acceptance but before it has been published online.

  • 2
    Long ago some journals had a clause that if you did withdraw after a certain point, you would have to pay the expenses the journal had incurred on your paper.
    – GEdgar
    May 4 '17 at 13:43
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    I disagree with the downvotes. The question is on-topic, and I believe the answer is the same across all disciplines: Legally, yes, but at some professional risk.
    – JeffE
    May 4 '17 at 14:46
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    I agree with @JeffE. Some people here seem to use downvotes to express "No, don't do that" instead of "This is a bad or poorly written question." May 4 '17 at 17:26
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    @FredDouglis: I concede that in this instance, but without an explanatory comment it's impossible to tell the difference between a downvote that means "Please provide more details" and one that means "Don't do that." (And I note that it's not so badly written that you couldn't write a reasonable answer.) May 4 '17 at 17:45
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    In case it wasn't clear, I also disagree with the close votes.
    – JeffE
    May 4 '17 at 18:06

As noted by @Joe_74, it is possible but very bad form. If there is not a good reason for such withdrawal, the authors are subject to poor reputation at a minimum and sanctions (such as a ban) at a maximum. You haven't said why you wish to withdraw. As Joe said, if there is an error, it is unfortunate, but withdrawal is probably best. If it's like another recent post, and it's because of simultaneous submission or some other less ethical behavior, you would deserve whatever comes your way.


It may depend on the tacit agreement between the journal and the author(s) that you agree upon when submitting the manuscript.

However, if you motivate soundly this choice (eg quoting errors in data or analyses), most journals will unwillingly accept the withdrawal.

However, this may largely undermine your credibility with the journal, its editors, the specific reviewers, and the publisher.


There is a related post here: Is it ethical to withdraw a paper after acceptance in order to resubmit to a better journal?

And for those submitting to Elsevier journals, this publisher has some specific guidelines on how to handle similar cases: https://www.elsevier.com/about/our-business/policies/article-withdrawal

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