My colleagues and I published a new method in a journal last year. A week ago, another group published a nearly-identical method in the same journal. The approach is the same, just with different notation.

I believe this was not malicious on the part of the other group and probably was simply due to a lack of a literature search. Are there any actions we should take?

  • 3
    When did your paper come out in the journal, and when was their paper submitted to the journal? They could well have not known about your paper. – Jon Custer Apr 30 '18 at 15:38
  • Our paper came out in the middle of 2017 (and has been on the arXiv since late 2016). The new paper appeared published last week (April 2018) to be printed in an June issue of the journal. – user92102 Apr 30 '18 at 15:41
  • 1
    So, when was their paper submitted to the journal? – Jon Custer Apr 30 '18 at 15:44
  • 1
    @westt well, you can't blame them for not finding your paper on arXiv. – The Doctor Apr 30 '18 at 17:10
  • 1
    @TheDoctor Why not? A due-diligence search of recent literature—including arXiv—just before submission seems like a reasonable expectation. – JeffE May 1 '18 at 12:23

I would contact the authors first, pointing them to your paper and simply asking if they are familiar with it, and indicating – with no judging/accusing comments! – that their approach is similar to your published work. Then two things might happen:

  1. They will contact the editor and he will handle it; either they will have bad luck and his decision will be to reject the paper, or simply there will be a "note added in proof". In the latter case, you'll gain a citation, too.

  2. They will neglect your e-mail, either not answering at all, or giving some vague excuses that you might feel don't lead anywhere. In such cases, write directly to the editor of the journal, pointing him to your article and emphasizing the similarities between the two and that yours was published long before their submission (and maybe noting also that your two groups haven't collaborated).

An option might be to also write a short comment (I guess 1 page will be enough) to be posted on arXiv, just so that the community knows. But first contact the authors, then the editor (if necessary) – in the end it's his decision what to do with the submitted paper. I think there's only a slight chance that in the end you won't be satisfied with how the thing was handled – at least you will know to think twice before submitting to this journal again, and the community will be warned by your comment on arXiv. But don't jump too far ahead, first see how the situation will be dealt with.

  • I'm not sure 2 months qualifies as "long before their submission". And, the fact that it was the same journal for both makes #2 a little weird - likely the editor was happy with both papers, and may feel that they are further apart than the OP believes (rightly or wrongly). – Jon Custer Apr 30 '18 at 17:38
  • 1
    @JonCuster Well, I emphasized a few times that the editor is to make the final decision. But there might have been two different editors handling those two papers etc. There's no harm in writing an e-mail or two. Ah, and time is relative ;) – user68958 Apr 30 '18 at 17:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy