Q: Can a published paper be removed from a journal on request?

Detailed Question -

My paper was published in a journal. However, I later came to know the journal is a predatory one. I contacted them, after which they are asking me for about $750 as the fee for the article to be removed from their database. I need guidance about this.

1 Answer to this question

This situation is a common one experienced by early career researchers (ECRs), just as these are common tactics employed by predatory journals. They would no doubt have first mailed you with the promise of easy publishing, then accepted your paper with minimal or no review, then asked you for sizeable article processing charges (APCs), and perhaps even had you transfer the copyright to them. Their present action that you have described, in fact, is their final tactic: to make a double extraction from the researcher – withdrawal charges in addition to the APCs.

To answer your specific query, technically, a published paper can only be removed from a site/database in case of a serious flaw, and it is known as being ‘retracted.’ In case of minor issues, the paper is usually ‘corrected’ through a corrigendum.

To respond to your situation, we typically suggest researchers to let the published paper go, treating this as a learning experience. The paper carries no/less value now, having been published in a bogus journal. If you seek to withdraw it now, the chances that another journal will accept a paper published in such a journal is low (if not non-existent). Also, you will have to pay an amount that is at least half the APC, if not more. In other words, you will have to pay for about double or at least more than what you had originally intended. It will also be a lot of effort, and there’s no guarantee that the journal will actually remove the paper after they have received your withdrawal money. Instead, you could keep this notional money aside for the APCs toward your next paper, with hopefully a quality journal.

We understand how this may sound to you, but this would be the more pragmatic approach. Having said that, you may also wish to consult your senior/supervisor for more specific guidance.

For now, we’ll share a few resources that should help you avoid such experiences in the future.

Hope that helps. Wish you the best for your next steps – and the future!