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Google scholar suggested a paper for me to read, I opened it and boom it was my master thesis work. My work was based on Arabic language but they claim their work is based on Telugu language. Even they did not bother to change the title. they just switched the Arabic to Telugu. Not only that, they even did not bother to change the experiment results numbers or the figures. They copy/pasted everything with small minor noticeable changes. I tried to contact the journal but I could not find any contact details for the editor. What should I do now?

Link to my master thesis:https://dspace.aus.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/11073/7503/35.232-2014.09%20Soha%20Galalaldin%20Ahmed.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Link to the journal paper:http://www.j-asc.com/gallery/18-august-2018.pdf

Any guidance would be highly appreciated.

Update

I have contacted the journal's editor and as expected, no reply. I have also contacted Google via the link provided by Stig Hemmer and they have thankfully removed the links to the papers from Google search results after asking me to identify the exact content that I claim infringe upon my copyright.

Update 2

When I contacted the journal editor, I have sent a carbon-copy to the papers' authors to let them know I am aware of their plagiarisms. Nobody replied until Google removed their papers from the search result and put the following statement instead.

In response to a complaint we received under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 1 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint that caused the removal(s) at LumenDatabase.org.

Then, one author contacted me claiming that his student stole my work without his knowledge and that he would take the right measure to ensure pulling the two papers from the journal.

I hope this gives hope to anyone who has been a victim of plagiarism. You should not give up and you should stand up for your self and your work and God will assist you.

Thank you for all your comments, pieces of advice, and direction. I would not have been able to protect my right without the StackExchange community guidance.

  • 29
    I think in this case due to the journal that published their article, which fairly looks like predatory journals, it's better to contact authors and then if they did not give an answer for their actions, you could contact the office of research compliance of their university. Because your master thesis is online and if the journal was reputable their plagiarism checker tool should at least find a similarity between your master thesis and their article. If it is published without problem, it's the sign of predatory journal I believe. – Alone Programmer Oct 3 '18 at 14:08
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    I would recommend taking out the links. It's unlikely people reading will want to verify your story. On the other hand the fact that you're linking to the "journal" in question may very well factor into some algorithm to augment its stature. – Dean MacGregor Oct 3 '18 at 17:35
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    @AloneProgrammer Why contact the authors? They’ve already demonstrated that they act blatantly unethical. What possible interest would they have in resolving this issue? – Konrad Rudolph Oct 3 '18 at 21:57
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    @KonradRudolph Please take a look at the comment of this answer: academia.stackexchange.com/a/117844/98164 – Alone Programmer Oct 3 '18 at 22:11
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    @DeanMacGregor - Most links are "nofollow", which makes your concern not too concerning. – eykanal Oct 4 '18 at 4:29
61

I suspect that @xLeitix is correct that fighting this is futile, but would like to suggest another strategy if you want to try:

Google Scholar

The reason you saw this article was that Google Scholar picked it up. Other people will also get the same notification and some of them might be fooled. I am worried that somebody actually interested in Telugu might get misinformed.

My suggestion is telling Google about this. They want Google Scholar to be as accurate as possible and might at least stop giving references to this journal.

Anybody can publish anything on the Web, but if Google doesn't link it, nobody will read it.

I was unable to find a contact address for Google Scholar directly, but Google has a general contact page for stopping copyright violations which should be close enough.

Here is a link to a page about that

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    Let us know how it goes. So far my experience with getting stuff changed in Scholar has been less than successful. – xLeitix Oct 4 '18 at 15:28
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    Yeah my experience with Google Scholar made me think of it as an abandoned script that was once promising but then was shelved by the corporate to run on its own for the lack of advertising revenue and legal nuisance from all the publishers' copyright claims. Still use it for the lack of a free alternative, but I wouldn't rely on it much. Like a malfunctioning great machine from ages past with no spare parts available anymore – Arthur Tarasov Oct 5 '18 at 3:30
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    I have contacted Google through the link Stig Hemmer provided but until now nothing happened – Infinite Looper Oct 5 '18 at 10:22
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I have this one paper that has already gotten copied and submitted to some spam journals 5+ times. It literally happens multiple times per year (it has a catchy title that seems to appeal to a certain class of plagiarizers). I also usually learn about this through a Google Scholar alert.

The first two times it happened, I tried exactly the steps recommended by other answers. I contacted the authors (no reply ever), raised a stink with the journals (no reply ever), and contacted IEEE (the copyright holder of my original paper). IEEE indeed did react that they will look into it after quite some time, but nothing ever came out of it.

My lesson learned was that these things are basically impossible to fight. The authors or journals could not care less about ethical integrity, and for IEEE the measurable damage of one of their papers being "reprinted" in a different title and with slightly different words in an obscure scam journal that nobody ever reads is not large enough so that they would make an effort hunting down who is legally behind these shopfront journals.

The good news is that it is also completely irrelevant to you. I can assure you that your scientific contribution will not in any way be lessened by this paper existing, nobody will read the other paper (because nobody reads these "journals", period). For future promotions etc., the existence of this paper will not be in any way an issue for you. Science as a whole suffers (to a degree that we could argue about), but the fact that it happened to be your paper that they copied (as opposed to a paper by me, or somebody else) makes no difference at all.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. If you have “real-life” suggestions for xLeitix or wish to express your opinion about the situation, please take it to chat. Please read this FAQ before posting another comment. – Wrzlprmft Oct 5 '18 at 5:07
  • This is the best (and only) answer. – Failed Scientist Oct 5 '18 at 7:08
  • This is more or less true now, but I don't see it implying that we should let it remain true in the future. If a sufficient proportion of academics make actual complaints to plagiarizers' institutions, instead of ignoring the chronic issue, it is highly likely that future plagiarism would be lessened. In short, these are impossible to fight now, but not necessarily impossible to fight ever, if enough people cooperate to actually push for ethical integrity. Then we won't have to feebly lament that science will always suffer from such fake stuff. – user21820 Oct 5 '18 at 7:47
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    @user21820 Predatory / spam journals have every reason to ignore any such complains, so unless you have a plan on how to shut down such journals, you will be tilting at windmills. – Dmitry Grigoryev Oct 5 '18 at 8:42
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    @DmitryGrigoryev: I didn't say to complain to those journals, but rather "to plagiarizers' institutions", which another commenter also said. – user21820 Oct 5 '18 at 8:56
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The WORST thing you can possibly do is contact the so-called author, the plagiarist himself. Don't do that, regardless of what Alone Programmer suggests you do. By so doing, you will spur him into adverse reaction and he will swiftly file false complaints against you before you ever file yours. He will have your online works removed, if you ever approach him. That actually happened to one honest academican whom I avidly follow for his works. His plagiarist was ruthless in removing his victim's works online and so made the wrongful accusations and succeeded.

Nowadays, most serial plagiarists are experienced with strings of past complaints against them. They are ruthless, sophisicated and cunning and they are always steps ahead of their victims. Avoid contacting the plagiarist and play safe. Take your complaints somewhere else. Try Google Scholar's complaint board.

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    Usually you have something called publication date. The plagiarist publishes later then OP created his master thesis. – user75308 Oct 4 '18 at 12:56
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    @dgrat but sadly the world isn't fair and workers who pursue these incidents do not have much time to verify any claims. for comparison look at big websites like Facebook and Youtube, if you copystrike someone, the content gets taken down regardless of the fact that you are the rightfull owner. I think what Rita ultimatly wants to say is "don't risk it", its not worth the effort. – Tom Wellbrock Oct 4 '18 at 13:36
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    This is super sad. Upvote for the comment – user75308 Oct 4 '18 at 14:42
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    Tom, that is not exactly what I am saying. Only, just don't let the plagiarist know what you know, namely your awareness of his theft. Otherwise, he'd resort to destroy your credibility. Keep the plagiarist in the dark, while you are quietly in the process of making complaints formally and legally. Last thing you want to do is to alarm the plagiarist prematurely and watch him retaliate. He will be ruthless in defending his own credibility and tarring yours. – Rita Geraghty Oct 4 '18 at 14:44
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    Plagiarism is just one form of academic dishonesty. Another form is to list others as authors without their knowledge or consent. For example, scammer takes your thesis and rewrites the author list as "Stephen Hawking, Scammer". The late Stephen Hawking never knew anything about your thesis and contacting him is a waste of time. – emory Oct 7 '18 at 11:54
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Contact the journal editor with complete details. If at all possible, have your advisor do the same thing, making a complaint on your behalf. An official from your university could also make a complaint.

Sometimes very similar things can occur from parallel research, but that seems to not be the case here.

But having someone else in authority back you up can help.

If the affiliation of the other person is listed, perhaps a complaint from your institution to theirs would be appropriate also.

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    I don't think he/she could get anything out of contacting the editor of this journal: " Journal of Applied Science and Computations", which fairly looks like predatory journals. I would recommend to contact the authors first and then if nobody responded back, contact their institution. – Alone Programmer Oct 3 '18 at 14:02
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    @AloneProgrammer why would you contact the authors? It's not like they don't know ... – DonQuiKong Oct 3 '18 at 16:22
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    @DonQuiKong I'm not saying to contact authors to ask if they're aware of their plagiarism or not. I'm saying it worth to contact authors first to say if they don't retract and take down that piece of webpage + pdf file, I'll report it with the extent amount of details to the highest level authorities that are responsible for research misconduct in their institute. Hopefully, if they're really exists, cause I have even doubt about those authors that just put their gmail account! instead of their institutional email, they will react to keep their reputation (if they have reputation!) clean. – Alone Programmer Oct 3 '18 at 16:26
  • @DonQuiKong Otherwise, I would guess this webpage + its pdf file will be there for ever! and nobody really cares about some cranks that plagiarized this work and publish (if you could call uploading a piece of pdf to a website as publishing) somewhere, where nobody will even read it for one time. So this trick may work (may not work!) to at least take down that webpage. – Alone Programmer Oct 3 '18 at 16:30
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    I don't have a lot of experience with them, but it seems to me that even a predatory journal would want to avoid publishing plagiarized work. They need some sort of positive reputation in order to attract authors. More than anything, though, I think they would want to avoid controversy. – Buffy Oct 3 '18 at 22:22
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First, find an established academic who can help you make the complaint. Your masters thesis advisor would be the most obvious person to ask; but if there’s someone else you’ve worked with who you know better or trust more or who is better-known, they could also be a good choice. You want someone who (a) is an established academic in the field, and (b) can support your claim that you did this work in 2014.

Get as much proof of priority together as you can. If the department where you did the thesis already publishes its masters theses online, then that is ideal. If not, look for any public information corroborating the date and title and as much more information as possible — e.g. an announcement of the thesis defense/presentation, or similar — and perhaps also ask someone senior at the department (e.g. the head of department at the time) for a signed letter confirming that this is your thesis, given in 2014.

These people may also offer you further advice and assistance with making the complaint — if so, great, and take their direct knowledge over the rest of this suggestion!

With those prepared, make your complaint, and escalate it as necessary. Each time you make the complaint: state the facts, and mention and cc the established academics who can back up your assertions. The journal editors are the first people to write to: email addresses are given at http://www.j-asc.com/EDITORIAL-BOARD/. However, the journal looks low-quality at best and probably outright predatory, so I would not be very hopeful of getting results there. Next, I would try writing a formal complaint to senior figures in the department(s) of the authors of the plagiarising “authors”. It may also be worth writing to the authorities that have certified/recognised the journal as legitimate — or at least telling the journal editor you intend to do this.

I would not suggest contacting the authors. That would be the polite thing to do if there was any chance that they might have made an honest mistake somehow; but their paper is such egregious plagiarism that there’s no question they’re acting in good faith. This is like finding video proof that someone has burgled your house: you don’t need to politely warn them, you take it straight to the authorities.

Overall: there is a large ecosystem of dishonest research and publication, parasitic on legitimate scientific institutions and funding structures. While you are writing to people within that, they are unlikely to help you for your own sake. But if you escalate far enough, you will reach a legitimate institution who should hear your concerns; and more practically, if you say that you intend to do this, then people in the sketchy part of the system may be willing to help you for the sake of protecting their own credibility (and you will help push them to be a little bit more honest in the process).

(In all this, I’m assuming that you’re not working anywhere closely connected to the plagiarising authors, and so that you’re not in danger of any kind of retaliation. If you feel they have power/influence that might allow them to retaliate against you, then I don’t know what best to suggest, beyond getting advice from academics you do trust and who know the field themselves.)

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    1) On proof, at least have a wayback machine archived version so that they cannot delete it and pretend it never existed: web.archive.org/web/20181003165553/http://www.j-asc.com/gallery/… ; 2) on the editorial board, it's probably most useful to contact only the individual members who look legit, as they may be unaware of what's going on. – Nemo Oct 3 '18 at 17:01
3

I think this became very normal nowadays. I heard, that the number of publications doubles every 12 years. I just found data for certain fields where it's actually much worse. Consequently, the quality goes down by more than the increase modifier.

Journals do not care if you send them a mail that experiments are not reproducible and why. People start to publish old PhD or master thesis works by using scripts. Peer-Review became more and more useless to the point were the reviewers often do not understand real issues and mis-interpret pro-arguments because they are maybe just inexperienced students. Scientists startet to send work to fake journals.

This is all fueled by three things. 1) There are thousands of PhDs entering their own publication phase every year. 2) They have pressure to publish anything within 3 years to get out of this phase. 3) At least in my country, there are no not-time-limited PostDoc positions in my age class. So the pressure is forwarded to the next hierarchy level.

Solution to your problem: The whole system is broken and needs an update. I expect that the publication rates will further increase, review process will become worse. One day, it will be close to impossible to find any valuable information in any recent paper.

Number of publications in some fields:

Number of publications per year containing the term "PTR-MS" https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Number-of-publications-per-year-containing-the-term-PTR-MS-4_fig1_273029606

Number of publications per year with keywords “cancer pain” https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/P2X-receptors%3A-New-players-in-cancer-pain.-Franceschini-Adinolfi/43d871799dd1c5671d6582a2eac9f043fa8169ae/figure/0

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    Source welcome for the graph. – Nemo Oct 4 '18 at 9:26
  • According to 10.4331/wjbc.v5.i4.429 , the second graph is from MEDLINE/PubMed. – JdeBP Oct 4 '18 at 12:20
  • researchgate.net/publication/273029606 says that the first is from Google Scholar. – JdeBP Oct 4 '18 at 12:26
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    I don't see how the number of publications per year have anything to do with plagiarism. It's only relevant if you compare with the number of students in each field, possibly other things. – pipe Oct 5 '18 at 11:28
  • The overall pressure to publish anything increases and the inhibition threshold for plagiarism shrinks. – user75308 Oct 5 '18 at 13:46

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