I have been working for 1-2 years on a manuscript to be submitted to a journal with a relatively high impact factor. The journal has pretty strict rules about the length of the paper which is partially the reason why it took so long. The specific field itself is relatively small and people know each other's work. I am aware of groups working with comparable methods, but not on the specific problem I worked on.
The response to the submission was "Resubmit", which I did 2 months later. The final decision for the resubmitted paper was "Reject" which of course is not a pleasant response but I can live with that, given the high impact factor and tough guidelines.
Some weeks later I noticed that a paper was submitted and accepted two months after my first submission by someone else to a lower IF Journal on this very same topic. While of course it can happen that two groups work on the same topic independently at the same time, this paper showed some red flags to me:
- The title is a shorter version of the title of my manuscript, with the exact same wording just in different order
- The overall goal of the work and conclusion is the same
- The used methods are similar
- Results are included that were specifically requested by the reviewers from my first submission
- The time of submission. It was 2 months after my first submission and I do not think it is impossible to produce it during this timespan.
I now feel that I cannot simply submit my paper to another journal due to lack of novelty. My professor advised me to cite this paper and highlight the differences (there aren't many) and include additional results.
Should I inform the journal where I submitted about this or would you let this matter be without commenting about it?