I am a college student who worked on a small problem in applied mathematics for two years. I recently get together some results that could be sent to publish. However when I am finishing my draft I find a work published in a decent journal six days ago solving almost the same problem.

What can I do? The math problem is very specific so I cannot change the problem a little bit to make my work unique.

Explanation for the "almost": The abstraction/essence of the problem is exactly the same. However, since this applied math problem has been applied to many fields of science, our story and approach are completely different. I said "almost" because the core problem is the same. However, the main problem is associated with some peripheral problems that are not that important. We have done different extensions.

  • I wonder if you could explain the word "almost" more. Maybe you can still get the work published by refocusing the story on the aspects where the problems differ. Dec 20, 2019 at 7:23
  • I would definitely advise to upload it to ArXiv with a note that a similar result was obtained independently and simultaneously by such-and-such group.
    – Kostya_I
    Dec 20, 2019 at 8:58
  • @lighthousekeeper Explained!
    – dodo
    Dec 20, 2019 at 9:23
  • Is your solution to the problem the same as the recently published work? Does it use the same methods, etc.? If not your solution may have independent value.
    – TimRias
    Dec 20, 2019 at 9:49
  • So, they seem to be about 6 months or more ahead of you as they have published while you have not sent a paper for peer review. I suggest you focus on either improving this paper or a new topic.
    – Solar Mike
    Dec 20, 2019 at 10:16

2 Answers 2


Get personalized advice from a professor at your college. It sounds like your current problem is not publishable anymore since you've been preempted. Still, there could be a way to spin it so that it's still publishable (the fact that you're using it in a different field is a good sign), and if so a professor at your college who can examine the problem and the proof firsthand is the best-positioned person to help.


It's not wise to submit it now. Apart from that, I don't know what to advise. Keep this work at the back of your head and move on with other work. Perhaps someday you may get more ideas to improve upon this work. Positive thing is, your problem is right, publishable and you are one of the very few who were able to solve it. So one day it will be useful to you.

  • I do like this answer *in combination * with lighthouse keeper's comment.
    – Alchimista
    Dec 20, 2019 at 8:12
  • 1
    You do not explain why you think it is not wise to submit now.
    – TimRias
    Dec 20, 2019 at 9:50
  • @mmeent: I mean it is not wise to be in a hurry to submit something that you are not sure of getting accepted. Put it in the back burner and publish when there is something that is substantially different from the published result.
    – user102868
    Dec 20, 2019 at 12:00

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