Q: Should I pay a publication fee when my manuscript is not yet accepted?
I submitted a manuscript to a journal, and the status changed to “In editing” one month after submission. At the same time, the sign “Pay to publish” is being displayed. Should I pay at this stage when my manuscript is not yet accepted?
No, you should definitely not pay at this stage. In addition, you should check the journal website and ask your peers or seniors about this journal. No reputable journal would ask for payment at this stage. There is a strong possibility that this journal is a dubious one. Unless you are very sure that this is a reputable journal, it would be best to withdraw your paper. You should avoid any association with a dubious or predatory journal as this can be damaging for your reputation.
Ideally, the publication fees or the article processing charges (APCs) are considered post-acceptance fees. So, you ought to pay the publication fee only after your manuscript gets accepted by the Journal and not during the editing level.
I insist you contact the Journal’s management and explain the condition and get things sorted. Also, check if they are legit journals or predatory journals because nobody asks for the publication fee before the manuscript acceptance.
Make sure you check the Journal’s policy or submission guidelines before reaching out to them!