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I'm somewhat at a loss. Some time ago I privately circulated an early draft of a survey paper, and now I have found a translation of most of it into Spanish, published under three authors (one a math professor) and, of course, with no reference to myself.

The format, sections, ordering, phrasing, and references (about 73) are the same, except that the last two sections have been cut (along with the acknowledgements, of course). Well, and a few of the notational parts have been collected together into a "preliminaries" section. A number of the errors from that early version remain, as well.

How should I handle this situation? I certainly don't want to promote plagiarism, and would prefer to retain credit for my own work.

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    Who published it? Their editors are where to start.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 3:11
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    In such a situation, I would be interested to hear what the plagiarizing people have to say when confronted with the facts. An at least remote possibility is that they start regretting what they have done and do everything to set things right. Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 7:59
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    Undoubtedly go to the editors. But be aware that they (or to be more precise, their publisher's legal team) are going to be very careful indeed. I speak from experience. Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 7:59
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    How did you circulate your paper and to whom? To any of the plagiarizing people?
    – til_b
    Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 8:32
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    Does the journal that published it appear reputable? You should still contact the editorial office, of course, but if it is really shady, you would have to seriously threat their business model for any change to happen.
    – Lodinn
    Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 22:26

2 Answers 2

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First make sure you have a strong case that you are the original author, then you contact the relevant people (your academic head and/or the editors of the journal that published the plagiarizing paper) with the evidence and enlist their help.

See guide by AIS for victims of plagiarism.

  1. Get Some Perspective

Dealing with a plagiarist may be stressful and unpleasant but the odds are on your side if you can prove your case. You need to undertake a realistic assessment of the seriousness of the plagiarism and how important redress is to you before proceeding ...

  1. Establish the Plagiarism

As a first step, you need to prove that you have been plagiarized. Compare in detail the work of the suspected plagiarist with your own and carefully document the evidence.

Before you allege plagiarism, either publicly or privately, be absolutely certain you have a convincing case. This may pose little difficulty when an entire article or substantial chunks of your text have been used unaltered ...

  1. Document Your Authorship

Your next step is to prove that you are the original author and not the plagiarist! Early drafts and dated messages with correspondents, editors and reviewers are particularly effective in making your case.

Remind yourself that your comparison of one article with another may only tell others that someone committed plagiarism, but it may not clearly show who. Your next step then is to focus on amassing evidence to show that you are the original author ...

  1. Notify Your Administrative Head

Avoid direct contact with the plagiarist. Meet with your dean and present the evidence that you have been plagiarized. Ask your dean to formally contact the plagiarist’s dean and request a formal investigation or immediate resolution ...

  1. Notify the Editors

Increase the pressure on the plagiarist by notifying the editors of the publications involved and requesting redress. Submit your evidence and urge the editors to seek an explanation from the alleged plagiarist. Indicate what restorative measures will satisfy you ...

  1. Be patient!

If circumstances favor you, the case may be resolved quickly, which is not an uncommon outcome. But if the plagiarist denies guilt or the evidence is unclear or disputable, a resolution may take time, if it occurs at all. Academic institutions, for a variety of reasons, are often less than forthcoming with decisions relating to academic personnel. You may need to be patient!

You might also be interested in COPE guidelines for what editors should do when confronted with a plagiarism allegation. Notably these guidelines assume plagiarism is detected. The onus is on you to demonstrate that there is plagiarism.

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  • Useful information (+1). In addition to contacting the editors of the relevant journal, if any of the authors are academics (as in this case) you can also put in an ethics complaint to their university. I would think that straight-up fraudulant passing off of someone else's paper would be a firing offence for any university.
    – Ben
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 12:03
  • @Ben I think that's in point 4, although the guide recommends not doing it yourself but rather getting your dean/head to do it.
    – Allure
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 12:20
  • Yes, I suppose that's one way to do it. However, I'm not sure why you wouldn't just go straight to a formal ethics complaint in this case, with notification to all relevant Deans. Support from your own Dean is well and good, but an outside party can file a formal ethics complaint in a university.
    – Ben
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 21:05
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    @Ben that's given in the guide (although I didn't quote it): "It may be unwise for you to directly contact, or agree to be contacted by the alleged plagiarist. Doing so may expose you to threats of legal action, pleadings for sympathy and understanding, or otherwise bring you into a relationship with the plagiarizer which may affect your ability to behave in your best interests."
    – Allure
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 23:12
  • Fair enough, and obviously you're quoting from the guide here, which is useful advice in general. I'm not really in agreement that threats of legal action or pleadings of sympathy are a problem. People should always see their own actions as subject to the law, and a lawsuit against OP would not succeed in this case (unless OP does something stupid). As to pleadings of sympathy, I see no reason to impose barriers on the a priori; such a plea can be considered on its merits or ignored, according to OP preference. Anyway, good answer (+1).
    – Ben
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 0:20
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They expect you to never even be aware and, in the event you do become aware, to do nothing. Simply confronting the authors gives them the opportunity to attempt to withdraw the article without any other consequences, or for them or the journal to respond via lawyer. This is a serious problem in academia that I've heard about from others.

I recommend consulting an attorney. If you are in academia, your university may even be able to assist with this (and if they also have a law school, even better).

One must be very careful in circulating drafts. It's a good thing you have records to support your claim. In addition to the records mentioned in the notes, ensure you have copies of the e-mails in your sent mail where you sent the drafts out and check with one or two trusted colleagues with whom you shared it to see if they also have records of the e-mails when they received them and ask them to keep those.

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