- In 2019 I gave a presentation at an international conference. The paper, a systematic review of my field of study, was uploaded on the website of the conference.
- One person in the audience approached me and asked me questions on the methodology of the paper.
- A few months later, this person invited me to submit my paper to a journal that she was curating. I refused because my paper was already under review in another journal.
- Yesterday, I found out that she has published a paper in her journal with the same structure, method, and conclusions of mine.
To be noted: the bibliometric datasets are slightly different, but the images are very similar. Also, the conclusions of her paper resemble mine.
Anyone doing a systematic review of the field of study would reach similar conclusions, but existing work with similar findings should be cited. My unpublished work was never cited or mentioned. Moreover, my study was the first one to do a quantitative thematic review. Now, her paper is the first one to do it. I feel the novelty of my paper has been largely lost.
To be honest, this seems like a case of plagiarism. It is too convenient to copy the structure of an existing paper and change the wording to not make it look like plagiarism.
It can happen that similar papers get published at the same time. But her paper did not happen by chance. She copied my idea and decided to publish it before me.
I just find the behavior highly unprofessional, but I am not sure if copying the method, the topic, and the structure of a paper constitutes plagiarism. The fact that she never cited my unpublished work tells me that she had ill intentions. But maybe I am wrong. What do you think I should do? Can I ask the journal to retract the her paper?