Withdrawing a paper during peer-review or after acceptance, but before publication, is an uncommon event. It is not considered good scientific practice and must be done only in exceptional cases. Please review the following options and considerations.
Alternatives to Withdrawing
Consider a Rebuttal Instead of Withdrawing
Instead of abandoning a paper after the initial editorial decision, we advise that the authors attempt to revise their manuscript or provide a rebuttal. Keep in mind that the editor makes the decision, not the reviewers, so if you disagree with major changes demanded by a reviewer or consider specific comments to be out of scope, you should note these issues in your rebuttal.
If the author team feels they cannot respond to reviewer comments, we still advise that you respond and simply state why you were unable to address specific comments. Do not be intimidated or discouraged by reviews. You can argue your case, and the editor will consider your point of view. If you do not feel you were given due consideration, you can appeal the editorial decision at firstname.lastname@example.org, and a secondary editor will arbitrate.
If you require additional time to draft your rebuttal, you may request a deadline extension (see: I am an author working on my revision in response to the reviewers and I would like an extension for submitting my revised manuscript and responses to reviewers).
Alternatively, authors can consider a transfer to a sister journal if they are unable to address all major reviewer comments.
Consider a Transfer Before You Withdraw
You may contact the academic editor or email@example.com to request to transfer your manuscript to another journal in the JMIR family. You can also make transfer requests when you submit your revision (see: How do I request a manuscript transfer to another journal?).
Sometimes the editor questions if the paper is strong enough in its current form for the journal it was submitted to, and/or authors realize that an alternative journal may be more appropriate for their preliminary work.
Transferring your manuscript to a different JMIR journal may enable the editor to waive certain requirements or issues raised by reviewers, and no additional reviews may be necessary. For example, JMIR Research Protocols publishes protocols/methods or proposals (and has less rigorous requirements for the results section). JMIR Formative Research publishes formative studies that may be less generalizable but are still important to publish so authors can apply for further grant funding.
The JMIR sister journal may have a lower or no impact factor in some instances. Authors are not obligated to accept the transfer offer to a JMIR sister journal, but we encourage it for speedy publication (without additional peer-review).
Withdrawal after Acceptance Due to Funding Limitations
We ask that authors submit papers to JMIR journals with article processing fees (APFs) only if they have funding. Before submitting, please make sure that you have the necessary funds to pay the APF in case of acceptance.
We are not a government agency funding body or charity. While we offer discounts and waivers in our premium journals for high-impact papers or influential but unfunded systematic reviews/viewpoints on a case-by-case basis, it is primarily the responsibility of the authors to obtain funding for knowledge dissemination of their work. Authors are also responsible for asking their institution/department to support authors who do not have funding. Authors can contact their department heads and libraries or inquire about institutional open access funds. Please contact your library to inquire about institutional open access funding and encourage them to become an institutional member.
NEW (September 2020): If you published your submission on JMIR Preprints or a preprint server such as MedRxiv, and it was already peer-reviewed and possibly accepted by a JMIR journal, we can now offer transfer to our new journal JMIRx (What is JMIRx?). Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to proceed with that option.
We have journals with no APFs available if authors have no funding (see: I don't have any grant money - how can I publish in JMIR?).
Before you withdraw a paper, please consider that editor and reviewers have likely already invested significant (and often unpaid) time reviewing your manuscript. The further along in the paper's peer-review process, the greater the ethical concern with withdrawing a manuscript, given that a considerable amount of time has been spent on the paper by reviewers, editors, and editorial assistants. Please let us know before withdrawing if there is anything we can do to avoid the withdrawal. We are happy to work with authors to remove any perceived barriers to publishing.
Note that it is unethical and considered violating scientific norms (i.e. poor scientific practice bordering on scientific misconduct) to submit a paper still under consideration at a journal A to a different journal B. Before submitting a paper to another journal outside of the JMIR family, make sure it was withdrawn correctly (JMIR sends out a withdrawal confirmation). If you have already created a duplicate submission, please withdraw your paper from the other journal immediately and only submit it after receiving confirmation that your withdrawal request has been successfully processed.
Otherwise, according to international rules of publication ethics, a withdrawal may violate the research community's norms and may have negative consequences for the authors. If JMIR Publications becomes aware of a manuscript submitted or already published elsewhere (most articles show the submission dates, so we may discover months or years later that there was an overlap in submission periods), we will have to launch a scientific misconduct investigation which may lead to the retraction of the paper in the journal it was submitted to.
"Authors can request withdrawal of their manuscript from submission to publication; however, it is not advised unless it is obligatory. The journal editor must be informed with a withdrawal request letter signed by all authors indicating valid rationales. A submitted manuscript will not be withdrawn from peer review until a withdraw request letter has reached the editorial office. Authors must not assume their manuscript has been withdrawn until they have received a acknowledgement letter from the editor’s office. The journal editor does have a responsibility to impose disincentive sanctions, such as payment of the charge, rejection of the articles submitting by same authors etc, on the corresponding author and contributing authors according to international rules for publication ethics if the manuscript is not withdrawn properly, and even if the withdrawal is permitted." (Kirac, Publication Ethics)
Unacceptable and unethical author practices include, for example, playing "impact factor games" (What is impact factor misuse?), such as the case described here, where an author withdraws an article to have it considered by another higher-impact factor journal or worse, submits it to multiple journals to cherry-pick the one with the most favourable reviews or highest impact factor. We discourage sending the paper to other journals to play "impact factor games" in light of recommendations not to misuse the journal impact factor as a proxy for research excellence (see DORA statement).
Another example of unacceptable author practices includes gross negligence before submission, i.e., failing to read our instructions for authors and failure to understand that we are an Open Access publisher. It is not acceptable to withdraw a manuscript due to a lack of awareness about APFs. Our fees are disclosed on our website, our instructions for authors and our FAQs. On the submission form, authors are asked to confirm that they have reviewed our fee schedule and agree to be charged an APF in case of acceptance. Thus, we consider a withdrawal of this nature the result of an oversight on the part of the authors.
"When the journal and referees have behaved blamelessly, it is hard to justify unilaterally withdrawing the paper as an author, in particular after acceptance. When you submitted the paper, you implicitly agreed to publish it there if accepted. This is part of the research community's norms: a submitted paper is a request for publication, not a request for the option to publish." (Stackexchange)
JMIR does not formally blacklist authors who withdraw a manuscript after acceptance or in other late stages. Still, we consider the exploitation of our peer-review resources without the intent or capacity to go through with publication as highly problematic.
Process to Withdraw
Once the authors have considered all the alternatives listed above and reviewed the ethical implications, please complete the following actions:
- Contact the Editor: Send a message to the editor handling your manuscript; see: I would like to send a message to the editor about my paper (already submitted). Before you withdraw the manuscript, let the editor know your intention to do so, your rationale for withdrawing and if there is anything they can assist with to avoid this outcome.
- Submit the Withdrawal Form: NEW (June 2020): Please submit the Withdrawal Form to initiate your withdrawal request.
- Submit a Withdrawal Letter: If the manuscript still has to be withdrawn after considering the options presented in the form, please submit a letter signed by all authors as a supplementary file or directly to email@example.com indicating the reasons for withdrawal.
If you do not receive a confirmation within one week, please file a ticket with firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have not submitted a letter, please attach a withdrawal letter signed by all coauthors confirming the withdrawal. Make sure to quote the manuscript number.
The APF is non-refundable if authors withdraw an article after acceptance (but before publication) and the APF has already been paid. This covers author withdrawal initiations for any reason and at any stage during the production process. It also includes (rare) cases where scientific misconduct or errors/problems with the data come to light during the production/copyediting process.
Withdrawing a Published Paper
Withdrawing an already published paper is called a retraction. This is different from what is discussed in this article, which refers to unpublished papers that are either under review or accepted. To retract or correct an already published paper, please read We published a paper in JMIR and have a correction. What is the process of publishing a corrigendum?).
- I would like to send a message to the editor about my paper (already submitted)
- I am an author working on my revision in response to the reviewers and I would like an extension for submitting my revised manuscript and responses to reviewers.
- How do I request a manuscript transfer to another journal?
- What is impact factor misuse?