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The situation concerns ephemeral facts, that can't be proven to an department outsider. The sole two authors of an accepted paper have virtually no contribution to the result, but both hold prominent positions of authority within the department and are on top of that have close family ties with each other.

The main theoretical research was done by two computer scientists and the experimental setup & execution by a whole team of software engineers. Both groups are routinely engaged in R&D, but are affiliated with a company, that is owned by the two authors.

These affiliations are nowhere stated in the accepted version of the paper. And there is no chance that anyone will publicly come forward for fear of retribution. So, there is literally no physical evidence.

However, I feel that the conditions warrant that the editor of the journal that accepted the paper be made aware of the circumstances.

I stand to gain nothing from either accepting or retracting the paper, nor am I employed by said company, but I am affiliated with the department and feel that such behavior corrupts out department and science as a whole.

So the question is whether it is appropriate to write an email to the editor stating the above and additional information?

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    Imagine you are the editor. What could you do with such information? You could not say "I heard from an anonymous source who does not give proof that you acted unethically, so I retract your article". If you want to take action, you need to give the editors something they can work with, otherwise it is just a waste of your and their time. – Maarten Buis Jan 4 '18 at 15:45
  • @MaartenBuis I don't mind providing proof. But what coul constitute sufficient proof, given that I won't have witness accounts? Even if I had those, how could I communicate them to the editor, i.e. from the editor's point of view, I could just made witnesses up – user3209815 Jan 4 '18 at 18:37
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Contacting the editors may not have an effect at all. They simply cannot tell whether your accusations are facts or are just made up.

If you really want to do something about this, you should rather write to their institute or university and inform them about the suspected scientific misconduct. They often have specialists nowadays who will try to resolve such issues. Be prepared to be asked for proof.

Please note, that it might be completely valid to only have these two authors: authorship is not automatically gained by implementation work but rather by significant contribution to the paper. Please check which criteria must be fulfilled in your institute or field to become an author of a paper.

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    I would upvote this except for the last sentence: institutes do not get to make their own rules about who can be an author. You need to know what authorship norms are in your field. – Nate Eldredge Jan 4 '18 at 21:13
  • Thanks for the feedback. I extended my sentence, however, at my current university we have these (local) authorship guidelines. So there might not be one answer that applies for all countries, fields and universities. – J-Kun Jan 4 '18 at 21:17
  • Well, I would say that if your university's guidelines aren't consistent with community norms for your field, then it is inappropriate to follow them. – Nate Eldredge Jan 4 '18 at 21:21
  • The university guidelines are more strict. For example, I have seen that many PhD students list their professor as author by default. However, my university is more strict and requires active authorship for him to be included (he also enforces this and does not want to be listed as author without any contribution) – J-Kun Jan 4 '18 at 22:24

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