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I have recently come across a paper that copy-pasted entire paragraphs of one of my papers which is already published in an international journal. This paper appeared in a journal which is not very popular, and I did not get a courtesy citation.

How should I proceed with this? I was thinking of reporting the issue to the editor of the journal where the paper appeared but then I thought that it may not even worth the effort. On the other hand, I still have this in my mind since this is clearly unethical behaviour.

What would you suggest?

  • 1
    what a disgraceful behaviour. email him fire it in his face and let him know the rules! – seteropere Jul 16 '13 at 7:32
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    I would advise to read the nice answer from Anonymous Mathematician to a related question. In short, an important point to consider (which I didn't before) is that plagiarism might not be so harmful to you, but rather to the people competing with those who plagiarised. Not to say you shouldn't do anything, of course, but you should not worry too much (in case you were). – user102 Jul 16 '13 at 16:13
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I would definitely contact the chief editor of the journal and place the evidence before him/her/them. Plagiarism should not be taken lightly. There is a tendency to be lenient when it comes to self-plagiarism of non-critical parts of the text, for example, parts of methods sections (in experimental work). Regardless where one draws the line, copying sections of text verbatim from others is a clear breach to me.

Anyway, it will be the editor's job to pursue the matter after you made the point. If the journal belongs to a publishing house they may receive legal help to deal with the author. If the editor does not react and there is a clear publisher behind the journal it may be relevant to bring it up a level. If you have someone in your university working on copyright issues, perhaps at the library, then you could also talk to them. They may be able to provide further assistance and help evaluate the case.

  • 6
    Many thanks for pointing out different directions and different levels to proceed with this. I have a co-author in this publication, then I guess it is also sensible to let my co-author know about this before proceeding. – user7748 Jul 15 '13 at 21:05
37

I don't think you should let it slide.

  1. Contact the editor-in-chief of the journal where the offending paper appeared, and explain the situation (with the citation of your paper). If they do not respond, or do not adequately address the matter, "name and shame": spread the word that this is not a journal to be taken seriously. You could also contact the publisher, as Peter Jansson suggests.

  2. Contact the editor-in-chief of the journal where your paper appeared. They have an interest in protecting the work of their author, and may have more leverage in dealing with the offending journal. If, as is common, you transferred your copyright to them upon publication, they may have a legal interest as well.

  3. Consider contacting the author of the offending paper, and/or their department chair or dean.

  • 4
    Thank you for your answer. Point 2 is interesting indeed. – user7748 Jul 15 '13 at 21:06
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    Point 3 is also a smart strategy.. Contacting the institution is also very important. Good departments will treat such charges very seriously as well. – aeismail Jul 15 '13 at 22:05
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    From a general "dealing with offenses" perspective, it seems to me that first contacting the author of the offending paper would be the best way to avoid complicating things. I might be wrong about academia, though. – Andres Riofrio Jul 15 '13 at 22:22
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    @user7748: you may want to go back and read the copyright transfer form or any other documents you've agreed to when you submitted your paper for publication. I remember at least one publisher who listed, as one of the things that they do, in return for your assigning them the copyright, to defend the article against copyright infringements and plagiarism. – Willie Wong Jul 16 '13 at 8:44
8

I have experienced this first hand as well (twice) - not a very nice feeling at all.

Asides from contacting the editors, as has been mentioned. I would also inform those in your research network as to what has happened, for 2 reasons:

  • so they are aware of what has happened, just in case they wonder why your research has gone elsewhere.

  • so they are aware of the unethical behaviour of not only the offending author, but of the journal that allowed the plagiarised article to be published.

Members of my own research network let me know of both instances when I had been plagiarised (the second time was just within 48 hours of this answer). As with many academics, we have a zero tolerance for plagiarism, so we inform all in our research group for the reasons above - essentially, looking out for eachother in an academic sense.

The last point may seem harsh, but (for what very little my opinion is worth), I find that plagiarism is a deliberate and wilful act of intellectual theft - laziness and even ignorance are not valid excuses. Both the offending author and the journal that let it pass are just as guilty.

1

I think that you should send an email to the following persons:

1) To the person in charge or program committee of the journal in which your work has been plagiarized. Be prepared that you can stump upon some frisky person who would like to deny any responsibility about this actions, but at least you state your point that what is that person doing is completely wrong.

2) To the author who make the plagiarism action

You mentioned that the journal in which they plagiarized your work is not well known. Well that is one strong reason why you should communicate with them. For the following reasons:

  • Sometimes those small conferences and journals want to start to build a reputation, so consider that you will be helping them in that task.
  • Also they can get a grasp about the quality of reviewers that they actually have in their staff. In some occasions the reviewers only pass thru the article very quickly, but actually do not check if there has been some plagiarize on it. Do not get me wrong, but a lot of reviewers do that, and most of the discovered cases of plagiarism in journals or conferences has been discovered by external persons to that environment; like in this case.

So in both cases, you will end up teaching some research ethics to both: the cheaty researcher and the careless journal.

protected by eykanal Jun 24 '15 at 14:24

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