Q: Is it ethical for a journal to charge fees for withdrawing a paper after it has been accepted?

Detailed Question -

I face some problem while submission. After reading your response on "How do I withdraw my paper from a journal that's demanding money for a confirmation letter?", here are my questions:

1. I submitted to one journal and got accepted quickly. Then journal kept pushing me to pay APC. After I verified, I found that journal is not indexed in SCI, so I sent a withdrawal request. But the journal said that I need to pay 30% waiving charges. How should I reply?

2. You mentioned in the article that "The journal should not charge you anything for confirmation of withdrawal. In case they don't respond or continue to ask for money, send the request a couple of times more, stating that it is unethical to demand money for a paper that you wish to withdraw and requesting them to send the confirmation email. If they still continue to be non-responsive or demand money, you can send an email saying that you will consider your manuscript "unsubmitted" if they don't send you a confirmation of withdrawal by a certain date (give a deadline of 1-2 weeks)." Is there template to refer?

Thank you.

1 Answer to this question

The situation described in the article you've referred to is very different from yours. In the article quoted in your question, the journal was a questionable one and had messed up the author's paper completely at the proofing stage. So, it was justified on the part of the author to ask for a withdrawal.


However, in general, it is not a good practice to withdraw your paper at an advanced stage, after it has been peer reviewed. This is because peer review is a voluntary service and it is not fair to waste the valuable time and effort that the reviewers have put in for your paper unless you have a very strong reason for doing so.


In your case, if publishing in an SCI indexed journal was an important criterion for you, you should have checked this before submitting the paper. Your reason for withdrawing the paper is a lapse on your part; the journal is not really at fault here. Therefore, I think the journal is justified in charging 30 per cent of the fees as a fine for late withdrawal. Most journals, in fact, would not allow the paper to be withdrawn once it is accepted and the APC has been paid.


I don't think in this case you can argue that it is unethical for the journal to charge for withdrawal; in fact, it is even more unethical on your part to request a withdrawal and a refund of APC at such an advanced stage. In the future, please check the website of your target journal very carefully before submitting your paper.


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