Signup date: 19 Feb 2021 at 2:55pm
Last login: 08 Apr 2021 at 6:06pm
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Update: When the journal mentioned that they emailed me to say they will assign an "independent reviewer", I wrote back to say that I appreciated that, and had there have been a citation and attribution of the methodology to us, such as:
"In this work, we have applied the approach outlined by [BugsBunny et al] to quantify ... in ... --- partitioning X by Y Our work, however, focuses on the in-silico portion of a typical..."
or something to that effect, that would be properly attributing the very specific methodology to our work and I would not have written to them about the extensive similarities.
They have now written back saying that whilst they found "conceptual overlap", there "principles" (actually not just conceptual or principles, but a very specific methodology we devised) were applied in a different way, that they will not be retracting and that the case is closed.
It seems like they just used my honest comment about citation/acknowledgement to fob me off with a bogus response.
I can't accept this trickery from what is supposed to be a reputable journal. It brings the said journal into disrepute wrt to their handling of this. Suggestions are appreciated.
An update: The publisher and now editor in chief, have now requested an external to investigate independently. I'm glad of this and can now put this out of my mind. It has been quite stressful.
I initially wrote to the editor in chief. The associate editor responded to say they would investigate. Then a while later the chief wrote back with some bull excuse that the papers are in the same area so there will likely be similarities. I replied quoting the COPE guidelines and mentioned there was no attribution. Now, the publisher has said they were forwarded my complaint and will now investigate. Waiting to see if it will be properly conducted - hopefully it won't be a whitewash, because then I will have to consider further steps.
I suspect the editors are reluctant to investigate because i) any retraction or correction to the paper (to acknowledge our work) would involve a notice that could be seen to reflect badly on the journal/editor (i.e. how they let it through/did not spot), and ii) it requires a bit of work following the investigation guidelines/process.
I want the journal to investigate rather than going straight to the academic institution of the offending authors as I believe that is the proper process. If the journal editor isn't forthcoming, shall I contact the publisher (forwarding the findings)?
Any suggestions are appreciated.
Can you somehow convince him that publishing this work will be of some benefit to him?
I wonder if anyone knows if there is an actual term for what walter_opera and I have described here -- burying original ideas through excessive publications and subsuming ideas of other work without referencing?
When I said they probably don't care, I should've been more specific. The editor wrote back with some bull excuse saying they don't believe plagiarism has happened here -- I asked for an investigation. The articles are about the same technique, and hence there will be similarities. They ignored the pages and pages of overlapping statements with our paper B and my thesis as well as the fact the whole very specific method was almost identical as well as the hypothesis, statements and conclusions. The journal purports to follow the COPE guidance which is very specific on some of these issue. Having re-read their guidance and some cases I am sure I am right about this needing further investigation given the extensive similarities.
Maybe I could write to someone at the publisher of the journal, rather than the journal editor. I'll give them a bit more time for now, and maybe do as you say and send the report to the author's institution.
It's a really rotten situation.
Thanks for your support.
Thanks for your comments. Yeah, I guess I did. You're right. As you point out I can see now the emphasis more on the hypothesis and data. I knew it was created by the physics community to protect those areas and to prevent authors who are first to discover something being pipped to the post as a result of lengthy peer review. I guess I thought my article ideas and structure were quite unique, but then there are "clever" or devious people out there who will happily subsume it into another article with a different title, but containing most of the same points, albeit with a few extras like a glossary table and intro claiming it as another publication under their belt. Very similar to what Walter_Opera experienced.
I guess I could do the same, i.e. add in a glossary and other bits and pieces - but I'd be careful not to stoop to their level and copy the same additional bits. It's a good idea to make improvements, and I'll keep to the same title/specific area. The only thing now is I wrote it according to the very specific "basic rules article" format that is specific to that journal. So I'm a bit constrained unless I expand it out more. I won't trust that journal again, which is annoying as I have another full paper that would have been good to have published there as it's a leading one in my field :-(
The journal in which the highly similar paper C (to our paper B) was published in, and for which I have regularly acted as a peer-reviewer for has just written back saying "the articles are in the same area, so there will be similarities" and " as a result, I do not believe this constitute plagiarism".
However, they have ignored the nearly 8 pages of similarities I've listed. Their conclusion is clearly wrong and I believe anyone who sees the report of the similarities will agree. It just seems the journal has its own agenda.
I requested retraction, but they probably don't care as I'm seen as a lowly, small-fish post-doc.
I don't want to give up on this out of principle. What shall I do?
Thank you for replying and sharing your experiences.
...I heard nothing back, the status of my submission is now "with editor". After facing the first other suspected plagiarism issue, I was totally shocked (on checking the inter-disciplinary journal) that a similar x basic rules on y article was published mid February. I had a sick feeling in my stomach as I could see that 6 or 7 of the rules in my article (which only had a few more) had been written into this new one, but the title was vey different. It had a much wider scope to make the article look different at the outset. It was a general x rules article for "beginners in the field". It used the same phrases, rational and logic but added a few bits -- like a glossary, and one of the basic sections was expanded a bit. Many of the particular rules, especially quite specific unusual ones (but useful) were woven into this new work. Bear in mind that these x basic rules articles are usually quite short, sometimes a rule is just a big paragraph.
I noticed the article has the same editor (one of two I suggest that is listed as being responsible for these x basic rules articles), so they must have known about both these works given the time proximity.
One of the senior editors is from a particular country, and the new paper is from two authors I've not heard of, from the same country, especially wrt to my specific area. It is potentially possible that either this editor tipped them off (or asked them by solicitation to write something similar with a more general slant but gobbling up my work), or that the two authors found it on arXiv.org and did the same.
Given aspects of the content are extremely niche, and many of the basic rules I wrote in mine are incorporated and woven in, it's highly probably they have encountered my work or have been "coached" to write it with my ideas in.
Has anyone experienced anything like this before? It's sort of like rewt alluded to about theft of ideas in peer review, but editorial pieces don't usually go out to external reviewers, but are done inside?
It has gotten me done to think this is what goes on in "professional" academia, and high-ranked journals that have been running for years.
What can I do about this?
thanks for reading
I'm an early-stage researcher (post-doc) in Europe. The early-stage bit makes this particularly frustrating. Perhaps I'm a bit wet-behind-the-ears wrt to publishing ethics, but to me the right and wrongs in this regard are quite basic common sense. Thou shalt not steal, but rather cite and build-upon.
In my last post I described work I had done (paper B) during my PhD that I suspect has been plagiarised by a group in North America (paper C), and bears some resemblence to a much earlier paper we cited, paper A. I am now facing another similar (but not quite the same sort of situation) with a new article I wrote in January, which could have involved some "hanky-panky" by the editorial team of a journal I submitted it to. It's quite peculiar.
In December, I noticed a really cool educational piece that was in many ways based on work during my PhD, but it properly cited us so was very nice to see. It gave me a good idea to such a paper in a different area, but to appear in the same journal. This is an inter-discplinary journal in my field, and the educational article that cited us has a short, very well defined, specific format comprising X number of basic rules for/on Y.
So, just before Christmas, and with a view as an early-stage research to practice more publishing, in the spare time I had over the holidays I wrote my x basic rules article on topic Y. I based this on experience I had in a research institute and the particular stumblings blocks inter-discplinary researchers face using certain equipment. Some of this material is generically covered in such places as part of an induction, but often falls short resulting in new staff members (and some who should know better) making the same sorts of mistakes. With this in mind I added my expertise also covering optimisation. All in the basic rules educational article format.
In January I archived the work on arxiv.org. I picked an CC-BY-NC-ND license.
I then came to submit it to this inter-disciplinary journal. I checked their submission guidelines and it said these basic rules articles are editorial pieces and should be submitted by their submission system.
After creating an account on the system, I noted that the Editorial article type had "(invitation only)" next to it. I emailed the journal enquiries asking about basic rules article submission - initially got no response. Quite keen to get my work submitted, I submitted it as an "Educational" type article and provided 4 reviewers. A few days later I got an email from the journals front-end servicedesk saying "sorry for slow delay, please submit as editorial". I thanked and said I'd already submitted it. They said it was now with editor. All this happened by end of Jan.... CONTINUED...
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