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I submitted a paper for publication in a journal indexed by Scopus. Before acceptance, I sent an e-mail requesting withdrawal of the paper because the review process took longer than expected. I did not receive any reply. Later, I received an acceptance notice with two major problems.

  1. They requested publication fees much higher than the advertised one.
  2. They did not provide any reviewer comments.

For those reasons, I insisted on withdrawing the paper. I neither paid any fees nor signed the copyright transfer form. I sent a second e-mail stating that I would like to withdraw the paper because of those reasons, but again received no reply. Finally, I sent an e-mail with a notice that I assume the paper is withdrawn.

Can I go ahead and send the paper somewhere else?

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    As far as I'm aware as long as you didn't sign the copyright transfer you're under no obligation. – Lio Elbammalf May 13 '17 at 11:04
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    @LioElbammalf No legal obligation, that is. However, they did not provide any reviews, so probably even OP's academic obligations to this journal are pretty limited. I probably would write an unambiguously worded letter in which you make clear that you are withdrawing the paper (not just asking to withdraw) in view of the non-existing review, and the misleadingly advertised fees and that you do not transfer your copyright to them in view of this. It's all not very nice, but predatory publication channels aren't very nice either. – Captain Emacs May 13 '17 at 11:44
  • @CaptainEmacs thank for your prompt rely. Most probably, I will not receive a rely. So is it enough that I make it clear that the paper is withdrawn and that I will send it somewhere else and then go ahead and submit it to another journal? I do not want to be accused of double submission – John John May 13 '17 at 12:46
  • @LioElbammalf Thank you but my concern is when can I go ahead and submit the paper somewhere else – John John May 13 '17 at 12:47
  • I do not know how to prevent being accused of a double submission in case they just proceed to publish it. You probably do not intend to fight a copyright case with them. There is indeed a danger that you may have "burnt" the paper; only you know whether it is worth taking the risk with another journal. What you might say upfront on submission to the editor is that: "Disclaimer: I withdrew the paper from another submission due to their unprofessional handling thereof and I am in full possession of the copyright. I hope you are able to give the paper full and proper consideration." – Captain Emacs May 13 '17 at 15:53
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As long as you can prove that you withdrew your paper, you can submit to another journal. The possibly delicate point is with the proof.

I would think that in case the first submission comes up, any sensible editor would take a copy (with all headings) of the emails you sent to withdraw as a decent enough proof. Moreover, what you describe points to the first journal being predatory, which might be easy to decide for the second journal editor depending on how obviously predatory it looks. Then the first journal would not have much credit, even if they would go as far as forge emails.

If you want to be completely safe, you can mention in the cover letter that you submitted your paper to another journal quite some time ago, and then decided to withdraw it (precise that you mentions this because the first journal never answered you emails). It would make your case bullet-proof in case the first submission ever comes out. This might not reflect too well on your submission however (it might prompt the reason why you withdrew, or it might make the editor fear you could withdraw again while he or she bothered to get a report), but I would not think it would have a significant impact.

Last, it seems you might have submitted to a predatory journal, and that would mean you should have been more cautious. If you don't know a journal, don't publish there without getting an opinion by someone well established knowing the journal.

  • thank you so much at last I got confirmation from the first journal that the paper has been withdrawn – John John May 16 '17 at 11:33

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