Q: Would my manuscript withdrawal be approved?
I submitted my manuscript to a journal in November 2017. One month later, the status changed to “Reviewer selection,” and there has been no progress since then. I have inquired thrice as of today, but each time the editor just replied that “we are currently searching for a reviewer”. I have heard that it takes approximately 2 to 4 weeks on an average to find a reviewer, but I have waited for 6 months. Would this situation be considered as a sufficient reason for manuscript withdrawal?
Journals usually require a strong reason for withdrawal. However, it is by no means unreasonable for an author to consider withdrawal if the editor is unable to find reviewers in six months. Moreover, since your manuscript has not yet been sent for peer review, it would not be unethical to request a withdrawal at this stage.
You can send a withdrawal request to the editor, clearly explaining your reasons for wanting to withdaw the paper. You can explain why time is a major concern in your case (either due to requirement of a published paper for graduation or career progression) and that you cannot afford to wait any longer.
Ensure that the withdrawal letter that you send to the editor has been signed by all the authors on the manuscript. A final word of caution: do not submit the manuscript to another journal before you get a formal letter confirming your withdrawal of the manuscript, since this amounts to scientific misconduct.