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I am a Research Scholar in Mathematics in my initial days. I wrote an article and submitted it to a good journal recently. I am confused with the following inquiry of mine:

If my article gets accepted then there is no worry. But suppose my article gets rejected and in the meantime when my article was in peer-review, someone else does the same research as mine and submits his/her research to some lower ranked journal which unfortunately gets accepted.

My query is what will happen to my article. Since an article similar to mine has been accepted, if I try to resubmit it to another journal after the rejection, will the Editors consider my article as duplicate even if I started the work before.

Will the Editor of the journal allow me to resubmit my paper if I show them all the details that I was the one who started this work first but since it got rejected from a higher ranked journal, I am submitting it to his/her journal now.

Or

Will my article be considered duplicate of the one which got published recently in a lower ranked journal?

I am confused.What shall I do in this kind of situation. I guess these sort of things happen to every researcher. How does one get to deal with this?

Another query of mine which is related to the same problem

Even if I put my article on the arXiv and if someone does the same research as mine, is it possible that he/she may say that he/she does not read arXiv articles and hence his/her work is not plagiarized.

Someone please help me out. I am puzzled on how to deal with these two issues.

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  • It's not productive to worry about it. Apr 30 '20 at 10:21
  • @AnonymousPhysicist; sorry I dont get your point
    – Math_Freak
    Apr 30 '20 at 10:21
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    Also why the downvotes??
    – Math_Freak
    Apr 30 '20 at 10:22
  • There is no action you can take that is worth the effort. Spend your time improving your research instead. Apr 30 '20 at 10:22
  • I downvoted your question as not useful. Apr 30 '20 at 10:22
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Sadly, priority is established by whoever is first to publish, not by when the work has been conducted (since this is normally not really traceable). However, depending on the discipline, there are normally multiple ways to handle this problem:

  • Posting a preprint: probably the easiest way to show that your work has existed before it appears in a peer-reviewed journal is to send a preprint to a preprint server, such as arXiv. How "useful" this is for establishing priority depends a bit on the discipline, but at least your work is out there and you have a fairly solid argument to convince people that you at least did not copy from whoever published before you (if it comes to that).
  • Multiple discoveries: in many disciplines, it's simply not true that once a paper on a specific idea has been published no further similar work can be accepted. Frankly, in an experimental discipline, as long as there are not a handful of similar experiments with results pointing in a similar direction a theory isn't really accepted anyway, so the second, third, or even tenth study may still provide sufficient value to be considered even at strong journals. I think in math things are different (but if you are in math you would probably post a preprint).
  • "Being vocal": it goes against the instinct of some people, but in my experience a good strategy to fight against losing priority is to tell as many people as you can what you are working on. If you already give talks at conferences about your preliminary results, tell your collaborators, publish partial results, or blog about it, the word what you are working on is out there long before your paper actually appears. This has two effects. (1) It detracts people from working on your topic in parallel (or, if they already are, seek collaboration). Your competitors fear the same thing you fear (and, if they are just getting started, they may feel that you are way ahead of them). (2) Even if somebody beats you to publication, the community is well aware that you and your competitor just worked in parallel on the same topic (see also "multiple discoveries").
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    As a sidenote, I am tempted to agree with @AnonymousPhysicist - spending lots of effort not to get scooped is almost certainly less useful than using this time to progress in the actual research. That's why I mostly follow the "being vocal" strategy in my answer - because it only consists of things I want to do anyway (telling people about my work).
    – xLeitix
    Apr 30 '20 at 11:30
  • I have not till date given any talk about my work in any conference. So I am confused what's the best way to deal with my problem
    – Math_Freak
    Apr 30 '20 at 12:17

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