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This question already has an answer here:

I submitted a manuscript for publication in May (it was about DFT analysis of a specific system). The manuscript was rejected in October; one reviewer had made some suggestions, and the other recommended rejection as there is nothing new in the paper. I revised the manuscript according to the first reviewer’s suggestion and submitted the manuscript to another journal.

The second journal rejected my manuscript as one reviewer stated that similar analysis has already been published. I checked the reference introduced by the reviewer, and it is exactly the idea of my work with a slightly different method and different discussions. The manuscript had been submitted for publication in July (two months after my first submission). It is hard to assume it is just a coincidence.

I wrote to the editor of the first journal and asked him if the reviewer who rejected my manuscript is one of the authors of this new paper. He replied that he cannot disclose the name of reviewers under any circumstance due to data-protection laws.

Now my research is useless as I cannot publish it anymore. What can I do?

marked as duplicate by aeismail publications Dec 6 '17 at 21:14

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    I don't know about your field, but in my field it takes longer than two months to do the work required for a paper. – Mark Dec 6 '17 at 20:01
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    @Mark unless is of course stolen. – PsySp Dec 6 '17 at 20:02
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    he cannot disclose the name of reviewers under any circumstance due to data protection laws Do data protection laws really say that? I can imagine other reasons not to disclose a referee's name, but invoking privacy laws sounds like baloney. – Federico Poloni Dec 6 '17 at 20:10
  • Your assumption that the reviewer must be the author seems misguided. Reviewers may well be experts in your area, and may be up on the latest literature. – Scott Seidman Dec 6 '17 at 20:14
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    It's not clear that you have enough evidence that your idea was stolen. The other author(s) may have come up with the idea independently -- it is quite common. So you should probably just treat it as independent and simultaneous work. If you have not already done so, you should timestamp your work by putting it on arxiv or similar. That is the best way to claim precedence. – Thomas Dec 6 '17 at 20:30