It was about three years ago that I have started my M.Sc. degree. I was a top student at our department. I have graduated with honors and with several journals and conference papers. Everyone knew who I was and I was really popular in our department. In the first year, a supervisor asks me to work on a data that he said the data was his own and he had worked on it along with a draft written originally in another language. The data he had given me was based on a project in our class. Every student had to take part in the project as an assignment. There was a student X.X. he was so bad with me and always showed negative behavior through me. Our supervisor decided to put us on a team to make us friend! eventually, we were the only people that have finished the project and decided to publish it as an article. The calculation made by X.X. was wrong therefore our supervisor had told him that we have to go with my calculations for the journal based on the propositions that I have made. At that point, I have changed many things within the initial draft. With the insistence of Mr. X.X. our supervisor agreed to a conference submission of early stages of our project BUT he said that Mr. X.X does not have to be on the Journal paper because he didn't do any of new calculations and the writing process has been done by our supervisor. Therefore he told me to finalize the project without his name in the paper. Also, he told me that I could be the first and corresponding author because he doesn't have any time to work on the project. So, We have published the paper in English in a reputed journal. It is also worth mentioning that few weeks after we submit the paper to the journal, the conference has emailed us that the abstract along with a text has been accepted in the conference for a poster presentation. Our supervisor has shocked! because the paper that was available in the inventory of the conference proceeding was the semi-final paper in the native (foreign) language and the conference had sent us the final acceptance letter. Our supervisor has sent them an email and explained the situation that the paper that has been sent is not spouse to be online because he does not agree to sent this paper and the acceptance was based on only a poster presentation, not a manuscript text! they said OK and the argument was done.

It was in March that we have found the conference paper have been forged and indexed in the conference proceeding that we said not to publish. This proceeding was indexed after 1 year and a half after the conference! Our supervisor had three other proceedings in this conference and they were published at the time in 2015. BUT the conference paper that Mr. X.X. was working on published in 2018 which obviously they have forged the date. Because I have printed all the proceedings in 2016. I have gathered that Mr. X.X is a son of a very powerful man in a governmental organization. Himself Mr. X.X works in as a government employee and he has many and many connections.

Exactly a week after we saw the proceeding my supervisor has sent emails to the conference explaining that this article has been sent without his permission and we have once told them to withdraw the paper. He has also included the technical report on the paper that have problems. Consequently, they have removed the paper from the indexing website.

Two weeks after this the journal that we have sent our paper contacted us that someone emailed us that this paper has been published in a conference proceeding and the policy of journal said that the translation of such is a redundant publication and it is marked as plagiarism.

We have answered their email that Mr. X.X have forged this paper and sent it to the conference and they had published the paper based on his lobbying and concoctions. We explained that at that moment (April 2018) there was NOT a single proceeding available with that information and we have sent the journal complete information about that. We have told them that Mr. X.X is a very well connected man to the government and everything is possible in this country because it is a dictatorship in a middle east (you guess!).

Since then there was not a single email have came to us from the journal. BUT two weeks ago July 2018 the proceeding have been uploaded once again in the same database with a forged date that indicates it had been uploaded in 2015 !!!!

I don’t know what to do.

This man is very well-connected and powerful within the government.

I am really scared that the journal won’t believe this and someday Retract the paper due to duplication or redundant publication.

I have told this story to my main supervisor who supervised my thesis he told me that Mr. X.X is linked to the dean of our department and it would not have any effect if I told him. Also, the head of our department is a woman that works for his father.

I don’t know what to do, and I am really scared that at this point that I have made this far and took this much effort in order to be an academic and to continue my studies as a Ph.D., retraction of this article with such accusation and falsification ruin my career and my life. Because we can't do anything about the conference proceeding that is not even in English!

What do you think I should do?

  • 3
    Sorry, I have no idea what you are talking about. If I follow the story, you and student S wrote a paper with professor P, S's part was wrong so you and P submitted a paper without S, but somehow S resubmitted an earlier draft (with all three names) as a second paper and a (forged) earlier submission date. And S has gov't connections in your (corrupt) country. Is this correct? Either way, you'll get better answers if you can edit your post to make it clearer and remove non-essential details. – cag51 Jul 24 '18 at 20:01
  • 3
    "We have told them that Mr. X.X is a very well connected man to the government and everything is possible in this country because it is a dictatorship in a middle east." If you mean this seriously, then based on the other details presented there is nothing you can do. – Stella Biderman Jul 24 '18 at 20:20
  • 1
    My understanding is that there was one submission to a journal from superviser and OP and another, to a conference, from XX. Now OP is afraid they will be accused of plagiarism (or self-plagiarism, that wasn't clear to me). There is not much recourse, as XX seems well-connected, so the usual paths to clear up the situation are not available. [Looks like cutting the losses (and leaving this environment) is the only recourse, but perhaps someone has a better idea]. Country - or at least area - tag? – Captain Emacs Jul 24 '18 at 20:26
  • 2
    As a favourite type of comments here says: "Don't walk, run!". Would you have a possibility to do a PhD abroad? Use it then! – Oleg Lobachev Jul 24 '18 at 21:05
  • 1
    I strongly recommend you remove any emotional details and irrelevant parts, highlights, side comments, etc, and focus on the essentials. It is hard to read and weighs a readers against you. – Scientist Jul 24 '18 at 23:01

The question is a bit confusing to read, but the issue appears to be that the journal claims the paper you submitted was already published elsewhere, but that publication was not authorized by you or your supervisor.

With regard to X's publication - generally, all authors must agree to publish a manuscript with their name on it, and everyone who contributed to it must be acknowledged. Sounds like when X published, he put at least your supervisor on as an author. Your supervisor could contact the journal and say that it was based on work X did together with you and him, and that neither of you agreed to publish, and it is preventing you from publishing where you really want to. You could then go to the actual journal you want and explain the situation. But honestly this will probably not help, because:

  • It is not in the editor's interest (principles aside) to retract a paper so you can publish it in another journal
  • It is not in the other journal's interest to accept your paper because from their point of view this is a very complicated situation and could easily be some sort of dishonest scheme you have cooked up (you know you're honest, but it may be hard for the journal to trust you)
  • You have said that X was very powerful and could realistically interfere with this

Journals tend to have a policy of not accepting results published elsewhere. This includes publication even by someone else entirely, although in my experience conferences are not always excluded. There are good reasons for this. For one, their income and status depends on being the place where the news broke first. So the journal may not want to publish results that have already been reported before, even if that's not your fault. But conversely, they may feel that the other publication is much lower quality than your submission or it is invalid due to academic dishonesty. If they don't, other journals might.

You can strengthen your case by providing evidence, such as notebooks or dated correspondence, proving your story that X did not contribute much and also when the work was done.

It sounds like X is responsible for very little intellectual contribution to this work, so another thing you can do is try to expand the research a little to include novel results, and then publish. The version X published will then not be a duplicate, and your manuscript will be clearly novel. You may need to also cut out or de-emphasize some of the results in your submission that X has already published. You could also do substantial rewrite to improve the analysis and discussion of the results in your submission. That will help materially differentiate your version from X's.

| improve this answer | |

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