18

Recently, I found a monograph that includes results from my dissertation. Those results have also been included in conference presentations. They have also been disseminated by the funding agency that supported my work in various fact sheets. This monograph includes links to my website but does not explicitly cite my work. They also mention a program officer associated with the funding agency in their acknowledgments and thank him for providing "information" about the program that was the subject of my dissertation. Is there anything I can do about this situation now that the monograph is already published?

I would just like to be listed in the references so that I get credit for the citation. I feel like the program officer shared my work with the author of the monograph, without also sharing the appropriate citation information. I don't want to burn any bridges, but I feel disrespected by what I view as plagiarism.

Any advice? What would you do if you were in this situation?

2
  • Have you only announced the results or did you publish them so that there is something proper to cite? And how was that monograph published?
    – Kimball
    Aug 12 at 0:43
  • 6
    Plagiarism is passing someone else's work as your own. They're not giving the impression that they did the work you did, right? If not then it's not plagiarism, it's just a lack of a citation. Which is unfortunate but 'tis life.
    – user541686
    Aug 12 at 20:12

4 Answers 4

13

Your description does seem to support a charge of plagiarism unless they attribute the ideas from your dissertation (and related work) to you specifically. Then, it might just be sloppy (very) scholarship. That is also to be avoided, of course.

You can inform the editor/publisher of the monograph that a citation would be needed and provide details. The fact that it is published isn't relevant, other than that it complicates things for them. Errata might be published. Even a revised (corrected) edition might be issued.

But there is no reason not to complain. Just keep it civil. It is primarily the publisher that needs to be informed. Work through them rather than complaining directly to the authors, though copying the authors might be courteous.


While it is possible in theory to avoid plagiarism without a specific citation, doing so breaks the chain of context that is needed for good academic work.

4
  • 16
    IMO it's really only plagiarism if they pretend that they conducted this work and produced these results themselves. The way I understood the question the situation is more that the monograph phrased it as "somebody found A and B as part of research program XYZ", without actually linking to the specific work (and maybe not even to the research program). That's for sure sloppy and most reviewers would call it out, but it's not plagiarism.
    – xLeitix
    Aug 12 at 8:40
  • 5
    Why not reach out to the authors first? That would give them a chance to recognize and correct their error.
    – usul
    Aug 12 at 16:19
  • @usul Indeed, reach out to the authors first. Aug 12 at 18:20
  • 2
    @usul And I'm sure the authors will be civil, because it sounds like they acknowledge the source of the work, but just got a bit lazy or were in a hurry and didn't cite it; no ill-intent.
    – AtomJZ
    Aug 12 at 18:50
12

It sounds like they tried to properly attribute this but failed to find the relevant conference proceedings (either out of laziness, because they’re genuinely not easy to find, or because they weren’t published at the time they wrote that section). I would simply send them an email saying something like:

I was reading your monograph, and I see you cite [funding agency’s fact sheet] for my work on [topic], and I just wanted to let you know that work is now publicly available at [proceedings].

I would also look at your website and see if you can edit it to make it easier for people to find your publications.

2
  • 2
    I think perhaps being a bit less subtle about what you're looking for—a citation—would be helpful. Perhaps add something along the lines of, "...which is the citation I would prefer you use." or something like that?
    – cjs
    Aug 13 at 23:06
  • @cjs: It's almost certainly too late to do anything about this monograph, since it's already published. What you're actually after is correct attribution in the future (both in papers and in talks). If you want to add "if you could use that citation in the future that would be greatly appreciated" that's fine, but personally I think it's not needed and I wouldn't add that myself. Aug 13 at 23:31
5

I would turn this around and point out at various opportunities (conference talks, social media, conversations with colleagues) that your contribution made it into a monograph. Technically, you could complain, but the negative connotations of this are likely not worth it.

Note: It happens all the time in academia that people don't get credit for their contributions, and others get credit for what they didn't do. It's so common that some of it averages out in the long term. I would fight for credit only in the rare case of an exceptionally important/influential piece of work.

5

I suggest you first get in touch with the funding agency to understand exactly what their involvement was; perhaps they gave the monograph author the wrong impression about something? Anyway, make sure they had informed the monograph author that they need to cite you.

In parallel with that, or right after that, I suggest you talk to the monograph author. But - don't begin the conversation in an accusatory tone; rather, describe the situation as dry facts and talk like you assume your interlocutor is also interested in rectifying the situation. If they refuse to act - again don't get into a shouting match, but sternly say that you expect this to be rectified and are not satisfied with their answer. It's better to set up a voice conversation rather than having this exchange in writing; then, if the voice call doesn't work, make your request in writing.

After that's done, approach the editor/publisher - either together with the author ("together" can be an email from the author CCing you that clarifies you want to resolve this together) or just yourself like @Buffy suggests.

0

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .