I am currently trying to read an article on a particular topic. I really want to read and reference the proper original article, and attribute the work to the ones who deserve it; however, I'm finding it hard to determine just who that is.

I have found articles, all of which seem to be ripped off from the same source. It could be that one of them is the original, or none of them are. (Some of them are obviously fake.)

I'm inclined to believe a particular one is legitimate. It's the one with the earliest date, which admittedly can be faked, but it's also in the IEEE Xplore Digital Library, which I trust.

However, I'm not even sure how much I can trust any digital source now, because one of the other articles turns up in search results from my own institute's digital library! It seems they're indexing a particular journal that is not trustworthy.

So how do I determine the original authors of the work, or who can I trust to tell me?

As an example of what I'm talking about, here's what I'm witnessing:

The third article is the one that is returned by my library's journal index. The last one is the one I believe to be original.

  • Difficult to say without seeing. Are they word-for-word copies with different authors and no citation? Mar 25, 2014 at 14:11
  • Would you feel comfortable providing links to the articles? One can speculate about what might distinguish between them, but that's not necessarily fruitful. Mar 25, 2014 at 14:13
  • @PhilipGibbs Yes, they are "word-for-word" with about 95% accuracy. Either rewritten by hand or by machine. They don't reference the original authors and they present the ideas as their own.
    – Anthony
    Mar 25, 2014 at 14:13
  • @AnonymousMathematician I've edited the question to include examples.
    – Anthony
    Mar 25, 2014 at 14:20
  • 3
    That's quite a list that you have uncovered here. I also assume that the last paper is the original one, but the fact being that ICNS is a very bad conference itself, I would not be surprised if there is another ancestor that you simply have not found yet. The other papers are clearly plagiarized (1,2) or just plain terrible (3).
    – xLeitix
    Mar 25, 2014 at 22:10

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately, there's no completely reliable way to determine whether a paper is plagiarized, but I think you're right in this case.

The 2012 IJWMN paper and 2014 IJLTET paper are pretty clearly plagiarized. Of course I can't prove anything, and one of them could in principle be the original, but it would take quite a story to explain how the same text was stolen and published by someone else three to five years earlier. A one-year delay might be due to refereeing or a conference rejection, but three to five years is a very long delay for CS.

The 2013 AJER paper is a strange case. It does copy some text without attribution, both from the 2009 paper and from the Wikipedia article on software design, but it has worse problems than that: the paper seems to have virtually no content beyond mock ups of what the user interface might look like, with messages such as "Your Secret Key is: 1004". Even aside from the plagiarism, it's safe to ignore this article as having essentially no research content.

The 2009 ICNS paper looks to me like the original. There are several tests one can do to try to gauge this:

  1. You can do web searches for sentence fragments, such as "vulnerable to a large spectrum of attacks" or "introducing IBC into P2P". If you do a reasonable job of guessing distinctive phrases, you'll find a short list of potential word-for-word plagiarized papers. (Annoyingly, search engines will sometimes miss matches due to not parsing PDF files well, so there's a random element to this.) In this case, searches show that the 2009 paper took some wording from a 2008 paper by other authors, such as the bit about vulnerability, but seems not to have copied the whole paper. The borrowed wording is objectionable, but it doesn't invalidate any originality in content.

  2. You can investigate the prestige of the journal/conference. Plagiarists are less likely to get away with publishing in high-prestige venues, because their theft is more likely to be noticed. I don't think ICNS is particularly prestigious, though, so this criterion doesn't help. The papers from 2009 are archived by the IEEE, but the IEEE archives a lot of junk on behalf of other conference organizers, so the IEEE archiving shouldn't be viewed as indicating high quality. It's very different from journals or conferences run by the IEEE.

  3. You can see whether there are a lot of citations. That wouldn't prove anything, but it would suggest that people citing the paper weren't aware of plagiarism allegations. In this case, Google Scholar finds only four citations, so we don't learn much.

So in summary, it looks likely that the 2009 paper is the original (although I've only looked briefly, so it would be worth doing a few more searches). That's a remarkable collection of plagiarism you've uncovered, and I can see how it would be unsettling, but I think this is an unusual case.

  • 3
    I think that this example, sadly, is anything but unusual. The number of fake pay-for-publish 'journals' that will accept anything without even reading it, and publish it with a science-ish look skyrocketed in the last couple of years. Now the readers have to do the editorial work, something that theoretically the authors already paid for.
    – Cape Code
    Mar 25, 2014 at 18:13
  • 2
    +1 for a good all round answer, but this is probably more common than any of us would like to believe. Just last week I found 2 identical journal papers with different authors, 5 years apart when preparing a plagiarism case against a student. I had a similar experience last year as well. Mar 27, 2014 at 20:44

One approach is to filter by journal.

  • The so-called 'American Journal of Engineering Research' (article 1)
  • The 'Academy & Industry Research Collaboration Center' (AIRCC, publisher of the 'International journal of wireless & mobile networks', article 2)
  • The 'Association of Computer Electronics and Electrical Engineers' (ACEEE, publisher of the 'International Journal of Latest Trends in Engineering and Technology', article 3)

are all fake journals and 'predatory publishers' as listed by Jeffrey Beall's list.

This means that no scrutiny was applied in the publishing process, in fact there was no editorial process whatsoever, and thus instances of plagiarism are to be expected. I would recommend not to cite anything found in these pseudo-journals.

The other clue is the publication date obviously. The IEEE mark does not constitute an insurance of quality in itself, as pointed out by Anonymous Math. but I would say that it is your best shot in this case.

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