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I submitted my first article to a journal and the journal indicated that it was now under review.

Now, I want to withdraw my article. The journal has a lower impact factor than a different journal, and I want to submit the manuscript to the other journal with the higher impact factor.

  • Is it possible to withdraw a manuscript when it is under review?
  • How do you do this?
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    The golden rule is a good guide to academic ethics (treat others as you would wish to be treated if you were in their place). If you were the editor or reviewers at the first journal, how would you feel about your time (spent on a voluntary basis) being wasted? – Dikran Marsupial Jun 15 '17 at 18:49
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    You don't. That's outrageous behavior. – Paul Gowder Jun 15 '17 at 20:07
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    The reputation you get by publishing in a higher impact factor journal will probably not compensate for the negative reputation this move might bring... – Nick S Jun 15 '17 at 20:21
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    You should only withdraw a paper if you have a good reason (e.g. you found a serious error). This is not a good reason. – Thomas supports Monica Jun 16 '17 at 0:45
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    I really don’t see why this question is getting so many downvotes. Yes, the thing its asking about is considered highly unethical — so that’s the answer to the question. But it’s not unreasonable for an inexperienced academic to be unaware of that: consider that similar things in other areas (e.g. “Can I withdraw my job application if I get an offer for a better job?”) are not considered unethical at all. – PLL Jun 17 '17 at 10:26
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Technical aspects of withdrawal: Technically, you should be able to withdraw your manuscript from a journal any time prior to acceptance. This would usually be done either by using some kind of button in the submission management system, or by contacting the journal (e.g., editor, action editor,etc.).

Ethics and norms of withdrawal: However, there are reasons for withdrawing a manuscript that are appropriate and those that are inappropriate. After you submit your manuscript, the journal, the editors, and reviewers may begin expending effort and resources in processing your manuscript. It is considered poor form to waste their time, by withdrawing the manuscript for no good reason.

The appropriate time to consider impact factor is before you submit your manuscript to a journal. This is information that is available prior to submission. Thus, I think most academics would consider withdrawing a manuscript from a journal after submission based on impact factor to be very poor form.

In contrast, some acceptable reasons for withdrawing a manuscript during the peer-review process include the following:

  • You submitted to a predatory journal.
  • They are taking an excessive amount of time to process your submission.
  • Following a revise and resubmit, and you do not wish to make the revisions. That said, if you requested revisions are minor, and you withdraw at this point, this may not be received favourably by the editor.
  • You identify a fundamental flaw with your manuscript following submission. That said, minor problems can typically be addressed at the revision stage or by notifying the editor and asking them whether they would like you correct the error now or at any potential revision stage.

Probably, if it is extremely early in the submission process, it would be more reasonable. E.g., you realise a few hours or perhaps a day after submission that you made a mistake.

  • Another aspect is, the resubmitted article might end up going to the same reviewers who had started reviewing the paper before its withdrawal. They surely wouldn't want to waste their time again. – Benjamin Antwi-Boasiako Jun 16 '17 at 5:38
  • Re "following a revise and resubmit", how do people feel about a paper being withdrawn after only minor changes are requested? Would this also be viewed very negatively? Asking for at least a few changes is the norm (at least in many fields). – user24098 Jun 16 '17 at 11:34
  • @dan1111 again it is a "Golden Rule" issue - how would you feel about it if you were the editor and reviewers of the paper that have invested their time and energy in the paper for no direct benefit to themselves? Or the reviewers of the version submitted elsewhere that will be repeating work that has already been done by the first set of reviewers. I'd say don't do it. – Dikran Marsupial Jun 16 '17 at 13:53
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    @DikranMarsupial I totally agree, but I thought it was a point where the answer could be clarified. The answer might be read to imply that withdrawing it after only minor revisions were requested would be "acceptable". The inevitable request for some small changes could be perceived as a "way out" for the OP or someone in a similar situation. That doesn't seem right to me--but in all honesty I don't know how such a situation would be perceived, really. – user24098 Jun 16 '17 at 13:58
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    I've removed most of the comments from this thread. Please keep all comments civil. Also, please keep in mind that what is obvious to one may completely foreign to someone else. Lets keep this site friendly for everyone, even the newcomers. – eykanal Jun 19 '17 at 19:14
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You might be able to withdraw/retract the manuscript. This might be possible using the web interface by which you submitted the manuscript. Alternatively, you can write to the editor or associate editor that is processing the manuscript. Do not submit the manuscript to another journal until you have withdrawn/retracted the manuscript.

EDIT: The question has been edited since this answer was written. It is now apparent that the reason to withdraw/retract is to resubmit to a journal with a higher impact factor. This raises ethical questions.

  • How to retract that one i don't have any option there in that website to do that just only one thing I can do is tracking my article – Mouni Mona Jun 15 '17 at 10:05
  • @MouniMona, you can email the editor or associate editor. – user2768 Jun 15 '17 at 11:11
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    I truly do not understand why someone would go to such a stretch for a marginal difference in impact factor... – BlaB Jun 15 '17 at 12:41
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    @BlaisB ... and risk burning bridges with a journal editor. They don't appreciate if someone wastes their time. – Roland Jun 15 '17 at 13:59
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    @jwg, this answer answers the question as (originally) posed. Jeromy Anglim answers the revised question. – user2768 Jun 16 '17 at 7:18

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