Withdrawing a paper during peer-review or the production after acceptance, but before publication, is an uncommon event, and must be done only in exceptional cases. (Note: Withdrawing a already published paper is called a Retraction, which is different. In this case please read We published a paper in JMIR and have a correction. What is the process of publishing a corrigendum?).
Before you withdraw a paper, please consider that editor and reviewers have likely already invested significant (and often unpaid) time in your manuscript. Please let us know before withdrawing if there is anything we can do to avoid the withdrawal and to prevent editorial/reviewer time to be wasted.
Otherwise, according to international rules of publication ethics, a withdrawal may violate the research community's norms and may have negative consequences for the authors:
Authors can request withdrawal of their manuscript from submission to publication; however, it is not advised unless it is obligatory. The journal editor must be informed with a withdrawal request letter signed by all authors indicating valid rationales. A submitted manuscript will not be withdrawn from peer review until a withdraw request letter has reached to editorial office. Authors must not assume their manuscript has been withdrawn until they have received a acknowledgement letter from the editor’s office. The journal editor does have a responsibility to impose disincentive sanctions, such as payment of the charge, rejection of the articles submitting by same authors etc, on the corresponding author and contributing authors according to international rules for publication ethics if the manuscript is not withdrawn properly, and even if the withdrawal is permitted. (Kirac, Publication Ethics)
As sanction for "unethical" withdrawals we reserve the right to internally blacklist authors (including coauthors) who choose to submit and withdraw manuscripts for reasons that are not our responsibility, i.e. we will not consider future submissions from this group.
Unacceptable and unethical author practices include for example "impact factor games", such as the case described here, where an author withdraws an article to have it considered by another higher-impact factor journal. Note that at JMIR, we cascade manuscripts to another JMIR journal if it is felt not to be strong enough for the original target journal, and that journal may have a lower or no impact factor. We do not force authors to accept the offer of publication from another JMIR journal, but reserve the right to no longer consider submissions from "impact factor obsessed" authors.
Another example for unacceptable author practices: There is no excuse to withdraw a manuscript because "I was not aware of the fees" as our fees are disclosed on our website, our instructions for authors and our FAQs, and on the submission form authors even check a checkbox confirming that they have reviewed our fee schedule and agreeing to be charged in case of acceptance (see screenshot below); thus, we consider a withdrawal the result of gross negligence on the part of the authors (in particular because alternatives exist, see I don't have any grant money - how can I publish in JMIR?).
Authors have of course the right to withdraw a manuscript for any reason without explanation, however, as publisher we reserve the right to no longer consider any future submissions from this author group if we do not receive a valid explanation, because we cannot be sure how serious any future submission from this author or group of authors is.
It is also the authors' prerogative to decide that they cannot address the reviewer comments, however, in these cases we still advice to respond to the peer-reviews and simply state why specific comments could not be addressed. You may also contact the academic editor to "negotiate" if the paper can be transferred to another journal of the JMIR family (no additional reviews may be necessary) in exchange for waiving certain requirements. For example, JMIR Res Protoc publishes protocols/methods, proposals and formative studies and has less rigorous requirements for the results section.
If an article is withdrawn by authors after acceptance (but before publication), for any reason and at any stage, authors are still responsible for paying the Article Processing Fee, otherwise they will be blacklisted.
When the journal and referees have behaved blamelessly, it is hard to justify unilaterally withdrawing the paper as an author, in particular after acceptance. When you submitted the paper, you implicitly agreed to publish it there if accepted. This is part of the research community's norms: a submitted paper is a request for publication, not a request for the option to publish. (Stackexchange)
Note that if your manuscript is currently still active in our queue, it violates scientific norms (i.e. is scientific misconduct) to submit this paper to a different journal while it is still under consideration at another journal. If you have done that already, please withdraw your paper from the other journal immediately, and only submit it after proper withdrawal from us.
Before you withdraw, please consider a manuscript transfer (How do I request a manuscript transfer to another journal?) or deadline extension so you have more time to work on your revision (I am an author working on my revision in response to the reviewers and I would like an extension for submitting my revised manuscript and responses to reviewers.).
Process to withdraw:
- Send a message to the editor handling your manuscript, see I would like to send a message to the editor about my paper (already submitted). Before you definitively withdraw the manuscript, let the editor know your intention to do so and if there is anything he can do to avoid it. If the manuscripts still has to be withdrawn, please upload a letter signed by all authors as supplementary file indicating the reasons for withdrawing the manuscript.
- If you do not receive a "Withdrawn" confirmation within 3 business days, please file a ticket with firstname.lastname@example.org
- Please refrain from submitting future manuscripts to JMIR journals unless you have a valid explanation, in particular if you withdraw during review or after acceptance
- I would like to send a message to the editor about my paper (already submitted)
- I am an author working on my revision in response to the reviewers and I would like an extension for submitting my revised manuscript and responses to reviewers.
- How do I request a manuscript transfer to another journal?