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In my research, I've found two articles that are completely identical, except the abstract and authors names. They are published on different conferences, with one year between.

What should (must) I do in this case?

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2 Answers

The programme committees for the conferences would be the appropriate authorities to contact (it is their responsibility to deal with plagiarism within their conference). This is of course complicated by the fact the conferences are in the past; the current programme committee may have little or nothing to do with the earlier committee, the steering committee may be more appropriate in this case.

If neither are responsive, contacting the publication venue may be required. If the proceedings are published by a journal or reputable publisher, they should be able to resolve the issue (they have copyright laws to deal with!).

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Wouldn't the conference proceedings list the programme committee members of that particular edition of the conference? –  Willie Wong Jan 9 '13 at 9:32
    
@WillieWong, it definitely should (or at least the information would be available somehow), the problem being that the programme committee is typically tied to that instance of the conference and thus is dissolved (along with its powers) at the conclusion of the conference, so the committee as a body may not as such exist. Of course the individual academics still do (hopefully!), but while I hope they'd be interested in stopping plagiarism, they may not have the appropriate powers or influence any more. –  Luke Mathieson Jan 9 '13 at 9:44
    
Ah, I see what you meant now. –  Willie Wong Jan 9 '13 at 10:28
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If the author sets on the two papers are disjoint, then it looks like a case of real plagiarism. If you are not an author on any of these papers, I'd suggest notifying the authors of the earlier publication of the other paper, and leave further steps to them. Alternatively, if the conference of the earlier publication has been sponsored by a reputable organization, you could try to inform this organization.

If the author sets are not disjoint, we have what is typically called "self-plagiarism". I don't like this term, because this is by far not as severe as real plagiarism. Still, in case the earlier publication has a copyright mark by some publishing company or scientific organization, you may consider informing them.

Note that you are not really obliged to take any action. Just if you want to cite the work, you should make sure to cite the original, not the plagiated work. This would normally be the earlier publication.

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I'd argue that if a citation to one of the papers is appropriate, then it's important to report the plagiarism, because otherwise it's hard to be sure which is the original. (Maybe it was copied from a preprint or rejected conference submission, and the plagiarizers managed to get their paper published first.) You're right that it will generally be the first one, but might as well have the publisher start an investigation to make sure. –  Anonymous Mathematician Jan 9 '13 at 22:44
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