Q: How to withdraw a manuscript submitted to a predatory journal?

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Recently, I submitted an article manuscript to a journal. Within a month, they responded, telling me that my article has been accepted. However, recently I came to know that the journal is predatory. Please enlighten me regarding how to handle this tricky situation, I would like to withdraw my accepted manuscript.

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1 Answer to this question

Since the journal that has accepted your paper is a predatory one, you must immediately send them an email asking to withdraw your paper. If you haven’t paid the article processing charges demanded by the journal yet, then do not make any payments. Since the very aim of such journals is to extort money from researchers, we can hope that they might not publish your paper if you don't pay.

However, that's not always the case unfortunately. Therefore, In any case, please try to have your article withdrawn before the journal publishes your paper as you will not be able to do anything once the paper is published. Send an email to the journal immediately, asking them to stop publication of your article. Send another follow-up email requesting withdrawal.

You can expect either of the following responses from the journal:

1) The journal may not respond at all to your request. In this case, you must wait for a day or two and then write a final email to the journal editor asking them confirm the withdrawal within a certain date (in about a week's time). State that if you do not receive a response within that time frame, you will consider your paper unsubmitted from the journal.  

2) Another very typical behavior of predatory journals is to ask for a very high fee for withdrawal. If that is the case, you can argue that this was not mentioned on the journal website, hence you will not pay. After this, send them the final withdrawal email as mentioned in the previous point.  

As a safe step, you can consider submitting your manuscript to a preprint repository. This way, you will at least be able to refer to the preprint of your research, if not add the publication to your CV.

The presence of predatory publishers in academia is a serious issue. Publishing an article in a predatory journal can be very damaging for a researcher’s reputation. This results in waste of valuable research output as well as the researcher’s time and effort. Therefore, it is very important for researchers to choose a journal carefully before they submit their paper.

For future practice, you can refer to this checklist before you submit your paper:

Think Check Submit checklist - Selecting the right journal for your research paper

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