Q: Why is my manuscript 'Being Prepared for Publication' after withdrawal?
I submitted a manuscript to a mathematical journal. However, I withdrew it a few days after submission due to a personal reason. About one-and-a-half months after withdrawal though, when I checked the status of the manuscript by chance, I saw that it is ‘Being Prepared for Publication.’ Also, my name and the title of the paper are listed on the accepted papers list on the journal website. What does this situation mean?
This sounds like a predatory journal and the typical coercive tactics of such a journal. If the paper has been accepted, that too without a peer review, and even more so after you requested for a withdrawal, it’s probably a predatory journal. For typical attributes of such a journal and to check whether this journal seems like (or is actually) one, you may use this checklist: 10 Point checklist to identify predatory publishers
If this is indeed a predatory journal, they would probably have sent you mails for withdrawal fees. As they didn’t receive any reply from you, to put additional pressure, they would have decided to publish the paper. They typically even ask for fees to remove the published paper. As you can see, they have a long list of tactics they use to trap unwary researchers.
You could check your spam/junk folder to see if you have received any mails from them since your withdrawal request. Also check whether you have actually received any mail from them that confirms the withdrawal. If it is indeed a predatory journal, most probably, they would not have agreed to a withdrawal.
What you can do is to write to them about not proceeding with the publication and confirming the withdrawal. Of course, do not let them know that you believe or suspect they are a predatory journal; if so, their tactics will only increase. Hopefully, they will cease from publishing the paper and confirm the withdrawal. In case the matter gets worse, do consider involving a senior or a supervisor.
Hope that helps. For more insights into dealing with predatory journals and sites, you may refer to the following resources:
- How should I deal with a predatory publisher?
- Can I submit an accepted paper from a predatory to a reputable journal without a confirmation of withdrawal?
- The scientific predator has evolved - here's how you can fight back
All the best!