11

Recently I came across a conference paper that tried to solve the same problem I solved couple of years ago and published a workshop publication about, but using a different algorithm. In their introduction they mention and cite 6 applications that can benefit from the solution to this specific problem. Out of the 6 examples 4 are exactly the same in my publication word for word with 3 of them using the same exact citations I used. Which made me believe with zero doubt that the one of the conference paper authors read my workshop paper and found those applications and citations useful and decided to reuse them in their publication without giving my work proper citation for finding those references.

I have read through academia stack previous questions and all questions I found were researchers trying to figure out if citing the source without citing the middle resource was okay:

  1. Attributing Second-order Citations
  2. I have found theses on a similar subject to my own, and want to use their references with my own text and a similar flow. Is this plagiarism?
  3. Citing a citation from a paper?
  4. Is it okay to incorporate a block of citations from a review paper into my own paper?
  5. Is there a problem with citing the original source instead of the source where the information was first found?
  6. If I use most of the references from a thesis but not the exact same sentences, is it plagiarism?

The consensus form the answers of these questions is that the middle resource should be also cited.

Since in my case my work was not cited at all, I contacted the conference committee chair about this issue and showed that the citations I have used have been reused in the paper that was accept in his conference without citing my work. His response was "this related work discussion does not amount to plagiarism." and continued to say that if I am not satisfied with his conclusion that I can contact the journal and ask them for a full investigation of this issue.

So currently I am a little bit conflicted, is this a case of plagiarism? If so how can I proof that it is a clear case plagiarism to avoid a similar response from the journal editors.

  • 9
    The consensus I get from the linked answers is not the same as the one you describe. A quote from the (by far) most upvoted answer among the ones you linked: "You don't (usually) have to cite the paper that exposed you to that original source. The purpose of a citation is to give credit to the originator of an idea/quote [and] tell readers where to look to verify your claims about that idea/quote. In this case, citing the original source satisfies both purposes and is sufficient." – mrp Jun 27 '18 at 14:24
  • 4
    @mrp the user whose answer you are referencing from the questions list that I have compiled has an equally (by far) most voted answer (academia.stackexchange.com/a/42442/9488) where the users says: "Otherwise you are misleading the reader into believing that you've done all that work (reading very broadly in the literature, identifying the most relevant and useful sources) yourself." – The Hiary Jun 27 '18 at 14:52
  • 5
    But that answer pertains specifically to survey or review papers, and nowhere do you indicate that your paper is one such. – mrp Jun 27 '18 at 15:28
8

Addressing the focal point first:

(1) The editor doesn't believe this is a case of plagiarism. If you want to establish it as one, you will need very strong evidence. Based on the question, I don't think you have that. What you do have is a strong indication that someone has read your paper (this comes from the 4/6 applications bit). There is a weaker indication that your paper has directed the author to further work in the field. But your paper is not the only source for this direction, so this remains a weak and unsubstantial argument.

(2) A researcher may read many publications, and may benefit from them directly or indirectly; but not every one of these will be cited. Citations are for when you use someone's work (results, conclusions, methodology, figures, entire sentences), or when you compare your results to someone, and so on. It is certainly good practice to cite papers which direct you to seminal work, since they saved you effort. But this decision is still up to the author. You may disagree with the decision, but you can't enforce anything.

14

No, this is not plagiarism, unless the authors specifically used the same wording as you. Citing the same sources as another paper is not plagiarism, otherwise anyone who cites an influential paper would be guilty of plagiarism unless they also cited the hundreds of other papers who also cited that influential paper.

In your specific case, you say

Out of the 6 examples 4 are exactly the same in my publication with 3 of them using the same exact citations I used. Which made me believe with zero doubt that the one of the conference paper authors read my workshop paper and found those applications and citations useful and decided to reuse them in their publication without giving my work proper citation for finding those references.

This is speculation, and you can not know that this is indeed what happened. It is also quite likely that the authors did a literature review or simply knew parts of the literature, and found examples of applications that were relevant for their paper. Using the "exact same citations" is what is supposed to happen when you cite the same work.

Unless your paper is relevant and related to the work done in their paper, there is no reason for them to cite your paper, and citing work that is related to both your papers can not be considered plagiarism. At worst, you could argue that the authors should have included your paper in their related work.

Remember, people cite your papers for the work that you describe in that paper, not for the citations you give.

  • 5
    @TheHiary Please clarify what do you exactly mean by used word for word: 1) They have the same whole sentences that you wrote, which are descriptive and the probability of a chance occurence is very small (i.e., how likely can it be that two persons would write independently the same, 50-word long, sentence), or 2) by application names they use commonly known and used short names, like, e.g., "data compression", "machine learning" or so? The latter does not qualify as plagiarism, but the former for sure is. – corey979 Jun 27 '18 at 18:05
  • 1
    If indeed the authors read your paper and reused your citations, I would consider that very bad manners and not OK, but not necessarily plagiarism. – mhwombat Jun 29 '18 at 16:19
  • 3
    Consider that the authors may have read your paper, looked up your references, read those papers, and then much later when they wrote a paper, they cited the most relevant papers they had read. At that point they may not have remembered that they were led to this batch of papers by your paper. – mhwombat Jun 29 '18 at 16:21
12

Who cares whether this is technically plagiarism or not? This is obviously a trivial matter and you should not waste your time on it. Do not be overly sensitive on receiving credit for every bit of work you ever did.

  • 1
    The issue is really if an extended piece of text has been plagiarized or not. If not, then this advice holds. If an extended quote has been plagiarized, it’s actually worth pursuing. – aeismail Jun 28 '18 at 10:14
  • 2
    I am probably sensitive to this incident because its my first encounter, and honestly I couldn't find any logical explanation for not crediting my work. But yeah I guess I will face more of this in the future if I stayed in academia. – The Hiary Jun 29 '18 at 6:46
  • 6
    Take this as affirmative evidence that your work is being read and is having impact. You’re doing something right! Then move on. – JeffE Jun 29 '18 at 12:03

Your Answer

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

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.