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While surveying a certain research area, I found 2 papers already published in 2 different conferences in 2019. Both have the same authors, same techniques, same figures (partially), but different titles and content descriptions. I'm so mad at their behavior, the editor's and also reviewers' approval, as a newbie to the academic world. How could this violation be allowed?

Is there a general way to pull out one of the papers? For some concern, I cannot reveal the titles now. Both papers are computer science, one is a workshop paper, and the other is a conference paper.

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    Does one cite the other?
    – Kimball
    Oct 7 at 11:07
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    "How could this violation be allowed?" - Editors and reviewers aren't superhuman; they aren't aware of every paper that has ever been published. Plagiarism detection software is sometimes used, but that is fallible too. In any case, it's possible for both papers to be accepted before either has been published - in which case the duplication is only detectable if both versions get sent to the same reviewer (or to two reviewers who share information).
    – avid
    Oct 7 at 13:34
  • @Kimball No, both don't do that Oct 7 at 15:33
  • @avid Thanks for pointing it out. I'm afraid this issue still depends fully on the authors' conscience. Oct 7 at 15:43
  • It's good to know you're on duty! Oct 7 at 22:39
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You mention that the field is computer science, and one is a workshop paper and the other is a conference paper.

It is not uncommon that a paper is first submitted and presented at a workshop that is attached to a conference, often in a preliminary state, and a more complete version is later submitted and published at a future conference. This second submission is allowed by many conferences when the workshop it was first presented in had no formal proceedings, and so the paper was not considered formally published there. There is often no requirement for the second submission to have new content compared to the first. The paper may also still appear on the workshop's website in such cases, but no copyright transfer takes place.

It is possible that the situation in your case is something similar.

Examples of such policies:

ACM:

Issuing the paper as a technical report, posting the paper on a web site, or presenting the paper at a workshop or conference that does not publish formally reviewed proceedings does not disqualify it from appearing in an ACM publication. Workshops and conferences are encouraged to indicate in their calls for papers whether or not they will publish formally reviewed proceedings so that authors can determine whether or not submission will jeopardize ACM publication.

ICML:

Submission is permitted for papers presented or to be presented at conferences or workshops without proceedings (e.g., ICML or NeurIPS workshops), or with only abstracts published.

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    In such contexts, does the conference paper usually cite the workshop paper? Or if workshop papers are really not considered as publications, are they almost never cited? (or left off publications lists on CVs if later published elsewhere?)
    – Kimball
    Oct 7 at 16:00
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    @Kimball My understanding (from what I have seen) is that they are considered to be the same paper, not an extended version, so the workshop paper is not cited and only the version appearing in the proceedings is considered canonical. This is of course different if the workshop had formal proceedings, in which case it is treated as any other paper and listed in publication lists, etc. Workshop papers without formal proceedings that do not get subsequently published formally elsewhere are usually cited as their arXiv versions.
    – GoodDeeds
    Oct 7 at 16:07
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    I've had some conference papers first listed in proceedings and then published in IEEE journals; workshop papers in my field get cited quite a lot @Kimball but if the same content gets published twice there may be some confusion about which one to cite. They would not, generally, have different titles and abstracts unlike OP stated, however...
    – Lodinn
    Oct 8 at 0:55
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    For workshops without formal peer-reviewed publication, the presentations and papers are regarded as works in progress. This is valuable to presenters and attendees. A workshop will often have a more in-depth discussion of a presentation than would be permitted at a conference, this can bring additional citations to prior work, a clearer approach to describing the work, and so on. These workshop papers can be cited like any other works-in-progress. As usual you should cite the source you used, although its always better to use the formally-published paper.
    – vk5tu
    Oct 8 at 1:24
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I had come across something similar very recently (again in CS, might just be the same paper!), though there might be some legitimate (ethically ok) reasons.

Did you check the publication dates on both of the versions? Maybe the workshop paper was a work-in-progress version of the conference paper, or the conference paper supplemented the same results with further experiments.

It is also usual as far as I can tell to submit papers rejected from conferences to workshops while you are also working on improving the paper. This would result in two similar papers if the main version eventually gets accepted to a conference.

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  • Thanks for pointing out the possibility. The workshop paper precedes 2 months but has more figures and details than the conference paper. It has also several graphs which are the same as conference's. This is weird. Oct 7 at 6:26
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    @NeutrinoAnt different conferences/workshops have different page limits, which could be why the conference version was forced to omit certain things. Of course, without more info it is hard to say for sure.
    – user53923
    Oct 8 at 5:32
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Do not be mad. Besides other stuff already mentioned, publishing the same thing twice - especially in conference proceedings - does not benefit an author a whole lot. It's not like they get twice the citations or take up capacity from highly visible journals, they are part of the conference/workshop and whatever they have brought there gets a (published) representation.

Consider authors having first a workshop on X and then almost immediately a conference on X where they intend to present the same(-ish) work, which is perfectly normal.

They might want to alter title/abstract to better fit the conference or workshop format, respectively, although that's becoming more shady and generally speaking, annoying. From the POV of other attendees of the conference who also happened to listen to the talk on the workshop, they might get tricked into wasting precious time listening to the same talk twice and that'd be bad.

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