The Gentle Exit: How to write a manuscript withdrawal letter 

Writing and submitting a manuscript for publication is no easy feat. Hours of careful research, thoughtful analysis, and eloquent writing to produce a paper worthy of sharing with one's field. Despite an author's best efforts, sometimes circumstances prompt authors to withdraw or reconsider their work/ manuscript submission completely. Whether it's an unforeseen change in research direction or a realisation of the need for further refinement, the decision to withdraw an article is not uncommon. However, before taking this serious step, it is important to think through the key considerations and understand the process of crafting a withdrawal letter.

Reasons for Manuscript Withdrawal

The reasons for withdrawing a manuscript are multifaceted. Evolution of the existing literature, availability of new data, or change in the author’s viewpoint, all rending the original paper outdated or irrelevant. In other situations, the choice stems from practical constraints like lacking the time or resources to address reviewer comments. In rare cases, an author might choose to pull their work due to personal emergencies requiring their full attention. Regardless of the specifics, once the choice is made, the author must take swift appropriate action by formally contacting the editor to initiate withdrawal.

Drafting an Effective Withdrawal Letter

When writing to request withdrawing a manuscript after submission, brevity, clarity, and politeness are key. Here are some points to consider while drafting a withdrawal letter.

1. Most journals provide specific instructions for manuscript withdrawal through their online submission portals. Follow these instructions while writing your withdrawal letter. 

2. If such guidance is not available, directly email the editor. 

3. The letter should identify the manuscript in question by title and authorship and offer a brief explanation for seeking withdrawal. 

4. Overly detailed rationales are not expected or necessary, though expressing courtesy for the editor and reviewers' time and efforts is advisable. 


     Here's a withdrawal letter template to help you understand the process of writing them better:

Dear [Editor's Name],

I trust this letter finds you well. I am writing to formally request the withdrawal of my manuscript titled "[Manuscript Title]" submitted to [Journal name] on [submission date] under consideration as [manuscript ID number]. Due to [brief rationale for withdrawal], I hereby wish to withdraw my manuscript from publication consideration.

After careful consideration, I have decided to withdraw the manuscript due to [briefly state reasons]. I highly appreciate the time and effort you and the reviewers dedicated to evaluating my work.

Please let me know if any additional information is required from me regarding this withdrawal request. I look forward to submitting future work for consideration

Thank you for your understanding.


[Your Full Name]


Withdrawing a manuscript can feel discouraging, but it does not necessarily mean research efforts were for naught. In many cases, authors have the opportunity to substantially improve the paper by bolstering the methodology, analyses, or framing based on reviewer feedback. This strengthened work can then be submitted for publication elsewhere. Alternatively, authors may opt to publish a pared-down version as a preprint or split the paper into multiple manuscripts targeting different aspects of the research.

Knowing when to initiate a withdrawal is crucial. If you discover fundamental flaws or if your research direction has shifted significantly, it's advisable to act promptly. Maintaining the integrity of your work and the reputation of the journal is essential.

In conclusion, the art of writing a withdrawal letter lies in balancing professionalism with a genuine appreciation for the editorial process. By approaching this task with tact and diplomacy, you ensure that even in withdrawal, your scholarly journey continues on a positive note.

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