One of my former students uploaded a paper we just published in a top physics journal without my name. The fraudulent paper is now appearing on the Google Scholar search results below the original paper we published in the physics journal. If people try to cite the fraudulent paper from Google Scholar, my name does not appear. The fraudulent paper without my name is appearing in the Google Scholar profile of all the co-authors.

I wrote to Google Scholar to report this. But I am not sure if they will change their search results to add my name. I am a woman of color, and I feel the former student is making my work invisible and not respecting my contribution. I was the adviser and the main driver of the work.

Any thoughts on the actions I should take? The student has graduated.

Responding to questions and comments here:

  • The student uploaded the paper without my name onto his own repository. He then manually created an entry on Google Scholar with the article that does not have my name. I tried earlier today to create a similar article to what he did so I know the steps. You can add things manually on Google scholar.

  • The student left my lab because he did the same thing for another paper we had. He submitted the paper without my name. The editors contacted me because they knew I was doing that research and it seemed strange to them that I was not an author. I was also leading that research, proposed the idea, wrote almost the whole paper, and the student simply conducted the experiments with my guidance. Because of this prior incident I do not think it is accidental. I don't feel like asking a bully to please be nice and take down the paper from his repository. I know he is problematic and do not want to engage with him.

  • I mentioned that I was a woman of color because to me the actions of my student are because he does not value my work or contribution. In his mind I do not deserve to be an author. He is making my work invisible. We black women have historically had our work made invisible. Our contributions are seen as not worthy. Similarly, he likely does not see the value I bring to the work and hence is making my work invisible and removing me. In his mind I do not deserve to be an author. I think it is helpful to contextualize that I am black because I think this is one of the reasons why he is blind to the value I bring to the research.

  • Good ideas on promoting the paper on the official site a lot. I will do that. I think that is the best solution and something I can control. Also good points that this is primarily annoying.


9 Answers 9


As far as I know, Google Scholar is entirely automated, and so those results will likely only change if the offending paper is updated or removed.

When you say the student 'uploaded' your paper - where did they do this? On a personal website? In a repository? Regardless, your first step is probably to contact the student and ask them to add your name or take the paper down. Bear Hanlon's Razor in mind: "never assume malice if incompetence would suffice".

If the student refuses, or ignores you, then (if applicable) you might contact whoever runs the website/repository, and ask them to amend/remove the paper. You might find that the editor/publisher of the original journal article is willing to support you here, as the republication may not be compatible with the licensing agreement originally signed.

Finally, since Google results are based on measures of how 'important' a website seems to be: you can cite, reference and advertise your original paper as much as possible, to promote it in search results.

  • 29
    Yes, the student should be contacted, if only for the record. I do not buy the incompetence here, as this is a repeated case. OP should promote her work widely. She is the PI, she has more leverage to get it publicised. Twitter and other media techniques can help if the work is relevant to a larger public. Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 10:06
  • 4
    Since he is stealing your work, would it be possible to press charges? This would force the student himself to do everything to take down said paper
    – Hobbamok
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 12:41
  • 28
    Assuming that this is research conducted under a university, if the student refuses, the next step is to go the university. Since it is university supported research, it is essentially their property, and there's a good chance that they will take legal action if needed to protect it and their employees.
    – anjama
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 13:09
  • 2
    @anjama it is unlikely to the property of the University. Technically the transfer of copyright agreement means the publisher is the legal owner of the work, unless other arrangements have been made. Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 19:05
  • 4
    @Thomas: Putting a competing preprint on the Arxiv will be an issue since it requires consent of all authors, which the former student will likely not give.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 7:45

Unless I misunderstand the situation, your student seems to primarily shooting himself in the foot. He publicly engaged in some childish retribution scheme that demonstrates utter disrespect for academic authorship as well as for you and is not even effective. There is little he can do to talk himself out of this. He did the same thing three times (first paper, preprint, Google Scholar), so he cannot claim an honest mistake anymore. Depending on the details of the copyright agreement with the journal and similar, this may even be a copyright violation.

You therefore have a considerable leverage against him, which you might use:

  • to protect yourself, if he ever decides to accuse you of abuse or similar,
  • to protect others from him by preventing an academic career or similar, e.g., by informing his current employer or having his degree revoked,
  • to make him undo his actions.

Whether any of this is necessary or appropriate is something you have to decide for yourself. Be aware that while the evidence of this may be public now, it may not be in the future, so it is probably a good idea to create some lasting evidence of this (in particular before you take any other action).

As for what you can do to mitigate the damage done to you:

  • The journal where you published the paper has some interest, leverage, and expertise to set the record straight. I therefore suggest to contact them. This is also a good way of having an independent paper trail of the event.
  • Publishing a competing pre-print yourself (e.g., on the Arxiv) is difficult since it would require the consent of all authors and you might commit the same copyright violation as your student.
  • You may be able to create a competing record on Google Scholar, but I have no expertise here.
  • 9
    +1 for recording evidence. For your subsequent advice, other parties that might help are: the OP's university, and the ex-student's current institution.
    – Kimball
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 14:45

This sounds a lot like copyright infringement. Talk to university legal counsel! And inform the journal. If you have signed over copyright to the journal, they can take legal action against your former student.

I wouldn't think too much about what I can try to solve this issue. If you escalate this, it will get sorted. Your university's lawyers should know what to do to get that illicit version off Google Scholar, Research Gate, et cetera.

  • 5
    Plagiarism ≠ copyright infringement.
    – Alexis
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 23:45
  • 14
    (plagiarism ⋂ copyright infringement) ≠ { }
    – Joooeey
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 13:57
  • 9
    expressed with a Venn diagram: plagiarism ⚭ copyright infringement
    – Joooeey
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 14:06
  • 5
    :D That is delightful.
    – Alexis
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 14:57

Go talk to your department head, your dean and ask your university lawyers.

This behaviour, no matter what chromosomes you bear, no matter what colour of your skin is, no matter your age is, is not acceptable at all.

Demand Google Scholar and any other database to delete those forged records from their databases. Demand re-proofing of all their published work for possible intelectual property infrigements.

This misconduct is not only damaging you but also your department because of missing your affiliation in the paper. Both because your department cannot use such paper in proposals or deliverables and readers cannot track your department to contact you for possible future work. I think your superiors will be interested in this case.

  • 8
    "your department cannot use such paper in proposals" is blatantly false, as there is a journal publication with the correct authorship
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 18:17
  • @BenVoigt Some use "hit count", or "citation score", name it as you wish, to assess the quality of the researcher and their teams. If the scampaper is not paywalled there is high chance that OP will be mising significant portion of citations, because the references will be linking to the scam paper, not the true original.
    – Crowley
    Commented May 4, 2020 at 9:16

So I presume that by “uploaded” you mean to arXiv or some other equivalent website, so the thing to do is to contact the site manager and ask for a correction to be inserted.

I’m not sure why one should worry about not being recognized in such situation. Everybody considers the published journal version to be the version of record, and I don’t know of anyone who would cite the arXiv version knowing there is a journal version. On occasions, some manuscripts are abandoned for various reasons, or are superseded by other work, and arXiv versions are not published but still cited. This is certainly not very frequent.

What the student did is extremely annoying and certainly does not reflect well on this student. If possible, you should try to clarify with the student what happened. Whatever the outcomes I would certainly let your colleagues know of this state of affair. Hopefully this student will not need a reference letter from anyone in your department.

I will add that, at the time of final revisions by the publisher (galley proofs), all publishers that I know of will explicitly query authors to update the bibliography to cite published papers rather than preprint versions. This increases the likelihood that third party authors wishing to cite this work will in fact cite the published version.

  • 23
    Unfortunately, if the journal is closed access, the arXiv paper will be better known in the important early time of the citation game. Much then depends on the longevity of the result and the long game dynamics. What the student did is not just annoying: it is a major academic offence - basically a type of retroactive plagiarism. If the student intends a future academic career, OP has a lot of leverage to set an example. Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 10:09
  • 1
    This may be true but citation-wise people would still cite the journal version, not the arXiv paper. ... well I think they would cite the version of record. Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 12:19
  • 6
    I don’t know of anyone who would cite the arXiv version knowing there is a journal version Many academics, including me, frequently do this for a variety of reasons. For example, laziness (e.g., not updating my bibliography), a desire to preserve chronology (e.g., journal version appears after subsequent work), or the journal version is behind a paywall.
    – Thomas
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 0:49
  • 6
    I routinely link to arXiv versions because they can be accessed by my readers, unlike the paywalled versions. Having a different set of authors on the arXiv version and journal version is confusing to say the least -- I'd naively interpret it as "the paper was posted as a preprint and some author got added to the journal version afterwards for some reason". Either way, it's confusing, and I find OP is perfectly right to have problems with having copies of the article online which misrepresent the agreed-upon set of authors.
    – a3nm
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 9:29
  • 1
    @a3nm yes I also often use the arXiv versions (or other publicly available versions) but I do not cite them. Agreed having different sets of authors is confusing and what the student did is very distasteful. Commented May 1, 2020 at 13:10

There is a thing called Retraction Watch.

After acting on other excellent answers here, communicate with then and watch this cheater burn.

  • Do you have a reason to think they cover preprints? Commented May 4, 2020 at 10:31
  • They track various forms of plagiarism, and in particular, a lot of self plagiarism. Commented May 4, 2020 at 20:16

I'm interested in this question as I'm on the receiving end of something similar, but I've read the question several times, even after the edit, and I still can't make out what you are saying has happened. When you write "The student uploaded the paper without my name onto his own repository." do you mean

  1. a) they have posted the as-submitted or OA-published PDF of the paper as-is, but omitted your name from the repository's metadata or
  2. b) they went back to the source version, removed your name, and re-generated a new PDF which they have distributed

and by "his own repository" do you mean

  1. a) an individual account on an established repository (such as Figshare), or
  2. b) a web server they have set up themselves?

For 1a, you should still be receiving credit as people should be citing using details from within the paper itself, rather than the hosting website. If 1b, then as others have pointed out here there are issues with plagiarism and copyright involved, and there should be people in your library or Publications Office and at the publisher who will have more experience in dealing with this. In either case you should go through all the metadata associated with both versions, and make sure you understand what was written/modified/uploaded when.

If 2a then you can raise the issue with the repository to either remove the item or add you as the author, though this may be easier if you already have an account with them. For example, "Claim authorship of an item" was already a pre-defined support query in Figshare a couple of years ago (though I wasn't using it in such a hostile situation).

One thing you might consider if you have access to a citation alerting service would be to have it notify you if the bogus version is cited so that you can request a correction/erratum in the citing publication. This may reflect badly on you as well as the perpetrator, though, and I'm also slightly wary of this lest all this Deep Learning AI stuff interprets your interest in the bogus version as encouragement to recommend it to others.


Another option you may consider to get a speedy deletion of the infringing file is a DMCA takedown request, if you are a copyright holder (but double-check that you haven't signed away those rights to the publisher).


This answer is not being updated based on edits to the question.

If the upload does not look like a journal article (e.g. no journal logo or journal formatting) and is not on a journal's website, then you should not worry about it.

People might post a large number of preprints to a large number of places. There is no reason for them to be careful when they do it. It's just a preprint and is not expected to be particularly accurate.

If people try to cite the fraudulent paper from Google Scholar my name does not appear.

You still get credit for citations that contain typos. You also deserve credit for these citations as well. The only issue here is the minor inconvenience of counting those citations, which you can probably achieve by manually adding the incorrect document to your Google Scholar profile and combining it with the correct document.

  • 3
    This answer is not based on the additional details added later by the asker. Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 4:21
  • 1
    @Crowley I believe that at the time I answered, the question did not claim anything was "published" by the student. In any case, a preprint is not a publication. It's a preprint. Commented May 1, 2020 at 0:05
  • 4
    @AnonymousPhysicist Nonsense. Preprints are publications. Claims to the contrary are newspeak by publishing houses trying to protect their monopoly. Commented May 2, 2020 at 19:56
  • 2
    "Published" does not mean "printed", "printed" does not mean "published". They are different words and one of them is used instead of the other for a reason.
    – Nij
    Commented May 3, 2020 at 3:13
  • 2
    @KonradRudolph Formal peer review is more useful than informal peer review because a third party editor enforces standards. This makes is easy to see if the publication meets the standard. Of course the reader will often disagree with the standard applied by the editor. My comments are about the customs of academia, not my personal opinion. Personally, I take a dim view of all peer review and think ArXiv is great. I post a fraction of my work on ArXiv and read ArXiv papers very frequently. I just do not see ArXiv as a substitute for formal peer review. That's not the purpose of ArXiv. Commented May 7, 2020 at 9:04

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