Q: How do I withdraw a published research paper?

Detailed Question -

My paper got published last year in Applied Engineering Letters. However, the journal has no impact factor (IF). Now, the university’s requirement is to publish a paper in an IF journal for completion of the degree. So, I would like to withdraw the paper and submit it to an IF journal. Kindly let me know if it is it possible. If so, what is the procedure?

1 Answer to this question

The journal Applied Engineering Letters is an open access (OA) publication featuring original and review articles in applied engineering fields such as applied mechanics, fluids engineering, and thermodynamics. The journal appears to have started in 2017, which means it is just over two years old, which explains why it doesn’t have an IF. A journal needs to be in existence for at least two years before its IF can be calculated. So, based on your university’s requirement, your published paper in the journal would unfortunately not qualify. Ideally, it would have helped to have known of this requirement before submitting and having your paper published, but that’s understandable as it’s still early days in your research career.

Unfortunately too though, you cannot withdraw a published paper. A manuscript can be ‘withdrawn’ before publication, and a published paper can be ‘retracted.’ There are a variety of reasons for seeking to withdraw a manuscript, mostly on the author’s side, as you can find out here. A paper is typically retracted due to the (in)validity of the science. While withdrawing a paper may have repercussions (depending on the stage of publication at which it is withdrawn), retracting a paper has more severe consequences, as the retraction is publicized. Both may impact your academic credentials, but a retraction more so. Additionally, another journal would not publish an already published paper as journals look to feature new and original research. However, again, it’s understandable that you didn’t know about all this.

For now, here are some suggestions we can make:

  • Depending on the type and content of the published paper, you could extract an idea or two from the paper and develop a new paper based on those.
  • You could of course also come up with a paper based on an entirely new idea.
  • While you are developing the new paper, you could explore and identify new journals for submitting the new paper. You may specifically wish to identify rapid publication and OA journals, which typically take less time to publish than standard subscription-based journals. However, take care to avoid predatory journals, as publishing in a bogus journal may impact your credentials too. Here is an excellent resource for identifying relevant journals for your work: How to choose journals for submitting your paper
  • Once you have identified a few journals, you could send them a presubmission inquiry. This could help save you time and effort during both writing and submission.
  • You could ensure you submit a quality manuscript so that the review and revision timelines are shortened. This involves, among other things, adhering to all the journal guidelines. For help with manuscript editing, you may also consider using a professional editing service (such as the one we offer).

Do keep all these points in mind going forward. All the best for the new paper – and for the future!