Q: What can I do to resolve the problem of duplicate submission?

Detailed Question -

I submitted my paper to RSPH (Royal Society for Public Health) journal (let’s call this journal A) last Dec. However, they did not respond me for 2 months and the paper wasn’t even assigned to an editor. So I submitted my paper to journal B. In fact, journal B is also one of the journals published by RSPH and actually I found this journal from the website of RSPH. I had planned to withdraw my paper from one of the journals once the other shows under review but I totally forgot about it and time passed. In the meantime journal B has sent a revision request and journal A shows under review since one month (I guess reviewer selection was done after 4 months). The editorial board seems for A and B seem to be the same and work in the same office (of course, the person in charge may be different). I made this decision without thinking. I realize that this is duplicate publication and I should not have done it. What should I do now?

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Answer:

What you have done is unethical and if the paper is published, it might be retracted on grounds of duplicate submission. I think you should try to withdraw the paper from Journal A immediately. Even this will not solve the problem completely, since the submission dates will reveal that the paper was under consideration by both journals at the same time. Additionally, withdrawing a paper after it has been sent for review is also not correct, as the reviewers’ valuable time will go waste. However, this is all that you can do now: Send in a withdrawal request to journal A.

Also, I think you should be honest and inform journal B about this. This will at least give the impression that it was a mistake on your part and you wish to correct it. The journal may decide not to publish your paper once they know there was a duplicate submission, but at least this is better than having your paper retracted and your reputation damaged. And even if  journal B rejects your paper, you can submit it to another journal (once the paper has been rejected by or withdrawn from both the journals) with a clean slate. 

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