Q: Shall I withdraw my paper if it has been under review for 6 months? What is the process for withdrawal?

Detailed Question -

I submitted my paper to a journal in February 2019. The status changed to "Under review" shortly after. However, the status has not changed since then. It's been more than 6 months. I wrote to the editor many times but always got the reply "wait patiently". Do I have to wait any longer? Shall I withdraw? If so, what are the steps?

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Answer:

While six months is a long time and it's natural for you to feel impatient, there is one positive thing about your journal: they are at least responding to your emails. Some journals do not reflect all the status changes. They just show "under review" during the whole time that the journal evaluation process is going on. If the journal is a reputed one, I would suggest that you wait for some more time. Perhaps you could send them another email explaining that as an author you are really anxious about the progress of your paper and you would appreciate if they give you a status update and let you know when you can expect a decision. If the response is the same as the previous ones, you can consider withdrawing.

The process for withdrawal is as follows: 

1. Send a withdrawal email to the journal explaining why you wish to withdraw your manuscript and asking for a confirmation of withdrawal from the journal.

2. Wait till you receive a confirmation of withdrawal. Do not submit your manuscript to another journal before you receive a confirmation of withdrawal from the editor, as this can be considered as a duplicate or simultaneous submission.

3. In case the editor does not reply to your withdrawal request, you will need to send multiple reminders.

4. If there is still no reply, you will have to write to the journal saying that you will consider the withdrawal process complete if there is no reply within a specific time (set a deadline of 1-2 weeks).

5. Once the deadline is over, send a final email stating that since you did not receive a response from the journal, you are considering your paper "unsubmitted" from the journal.

6. You are the free to submit your manuscript to another journal.

7. However, save a copy of the email thread about the withdrawal as supporting evidence in case of any complications later. 

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