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I submitted my paper to a journal in July 2017 and I received an email of acceptance on May 2018 but it hasn't been published yet. Suddenly, while I am searching on my topic I found that someone else through another journal published an article on the same topic of mine (same basics and main idea with some little differences) and I found that his paper was received in January 2018, accepted in July, and published in August 2018.

Is there any risk that the journal will not proceed with the publication of my article after acceptance?

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After a journal has accepted an article, they're ethically bound to publish it unless there's an egregious error or abuse on the author's part. Some examples could be:

  • They discover that you actually submitted your paper without acknowledging a critical person who contributed so much to the work that she should have been a co-author;
  • They discover that you plagiarized significant sections of your paper;
  • They discover that the reviewer they invited for the paper was actually you, using another name.

In your case, the journal will need to show that you must have known about the other paper before you submitted yours. If they can do this, then you are acting unethically, and they can retract your paper. If they cannot, then they'll go ahead and publish, and you can claim to have discovered the result first while the other authors discovered it independently.

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    By the way it's quite surprising that your paper was accepted in May and still hasn't been published. If you have not heard from the journal, I would ask them what's going on. – Allure Sep 10 '18 at 7:48
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    Maybe it is just a fake journal with no intent of publishing but their job is just fishing for ideas. – mathreadler Sep 10 '18 at 8:43
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    It is a popular scientific journal with a good impact factor. I already sent them an email asking about the reason for the delay in publication, but I haven't received any response yet. – Ran Sep 10 '18 at 8:54
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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – aeismail Sep 11 '18 at 15:34
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I'm not as comfortable here as the other answer writers. I can't be as certain as they seem to be that "all will be well."

I think you should take some action, actually. First, find out why your paper is delayed from your own editor and point them to the "duplicate." (See below for a caveat, however)

Second, try to determine if the other paper is an example of parallel research or a possible plagiarism. In mathematical subfields with a lot of research interest, parallel work is very common. Everyone has access to the same background work as everyone else.

But it is also possible that you were plagiarized from a public preprint and you should explore that avenue as well. It isn't impossible, in fact, that a reviewer has acted unethically here. Those are both reasons for pointing your editor to the other paper. If there is evidence of plagiarism they can help you with the response.

However, if you have already paid fees (or your grant did, or your institution) or if you have already transferred copyright to the publisher then you can insist on it being published. I'm still not assured that you would win a dispute with your publisher, however, as they can return both fees and copyright. That may, itself, be unethical, but probably difficult to fight.


I note that there is some risk involved in pointing your editor to the other paper, if they take the existence of the other publication as a reason to back out of publishing your work. An alternative is to first ask the editor for a publication date. If they tell you they are reconsidering, then ask why. If it is because of the other article, point out the history of the two papers. I agree that you should have priority here, but resolving it can still be difficult.

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    Are you worried that the journal won't publish? It looks like a completely normal case of different journals having different lead times, to me. Obviously, the asker should check the other article to see if it looks suspicious but what do you think is problematic about the status of the asker's article? – David Richerby Sep 10 '18 at 21:09
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    @DavidRicherby, I don't think anything is problematic other than the difficulty involved in finding a resolution. I think the OP has a very valid point, but needs information to proceed. The delay from acceptance to publication may mean something or not. I'm just not comfortable advising the OP that all is well, it will sort itself out. – Buffy Sep 10 '18 at 21:13
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    I agree that you should have priority here, but resolving it can still be difficult. — I don't. This looks like a standard case of parallel discovery. In the absence of other evidence, neither paper deserves priority over the other. – JeffE Sep 11 '18 at 16:49
  • @JeffE, I based the statement on submission dates, but agree, it looks more like parallel research than anything. – Buffy Sep 11 '18 at 17:11
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But your paper was both submitted and accepted before the second paper. So, anyway, I think, you have the priority. Once the paper was accepted I think you have no reasons to worry. Something really extraordinary should happen in order that the paper is not published. It is not your case. I believe that the papers with similar findings are constantly published in parallel in competitive fields. As to the delay with the publishing: in some journals it takes time. I suggest that you check already published papers in this journal with regard to how long it takes from acceptance date to publication.

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Journals usually indicate time stamps for reception and acceptance of the manuscript: thus it would appear (according to your chronology of events) that you will be recognized as having priority, irrespective of publication date.

There is a slim chance - I’ve seen this happen - that the “competition” was in fact a referee for you work, and that this “competitor” has somehow pushed his/her work to a journal with faster turnaround. (I’m assuming you did not present this work at a seminar or a conference, in which point the work is fair game). If you think this might be the case you might want to contact “your” journal, politely indicate your concern and let them do the remaining legwork of checking their files to see if something’s afoot.

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    How is it "fair game" for me to turn your conference presentation into my paper? – David Richerby Sep 10 '18 at 22:11
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    @DavidRicherby conferences are considered public presentation. If you have the idea for a paper from a conference or a seminar, you can publish (unlike refereeing or grant review, which have explicit clauses against using ideas contained therein). I don’t do it (and don’t approve of it) but it does happen. In fact I know personally of people who we scooped of their ideas this way. – ZeroTheHero Sep 10 '18 at 22:56
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    @ ZeroTheHero If the new paper does not acknowledge the source of the ideas, it is still plagiarism. (And yes, I also know people to whom this happened, and it was still plagiarism.) However, that said @DavidRicherby it can be "fair game" to take the part that was presented in a conference, re-construct the rest, and publish, including only a buried citation to the conference presentation. That pays lip service to the strict plagiarism concerns, but it still measurably steals the impact of the original authors' later publication. – E.P. Sep 11 '18 at 20:40
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The aim of publishing is to share new knowledge with the world after a peer review process. It looks like the world now already has access to the knowledge that was in your paper, so all is well. I recommend then contacting the journal to let them know your article no longer requires publication, allowing them to focus on disseminating knowledge to the world that hasn't yet been published.

  • I must respectfully disagree. 1. Even in completely unselfish terms of spreading knowledge, the fact that two independent researchers came to similar results is meaningful and significant (possibly slightly less in mathematics than more experimental areas, but even there it is meaningful if the proofs are not identical). 2. From a more selfish perspective, publications are significant on CVs and resumes so saying simply "drop it" requires a bit more justification than someone else's article came out slightly earlier. – TimothyAWiseman Sep 11 '18 at 18:36

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