I am trying to solve a problem, and I solved it based on someone's article's results. I have written a manuscript and sent it to a journal.

While reading that article again, I found out that my manuscript's main contribution has been already proven in it, but I never realized that in the first place.

To make things complicated, if the results there were combined with other results in another article (by the same author), one can fully solve the problem. However the author never made a claim about this.

Furthermore, my work is slightly different from that author's work (although his work is more direct I think). In this situation, does my work count as having independently solved the problem?

  • 3
    Does it "count"... for what? Whether you understood the prior work or not, it makes no practical impact on the novelty your work or its likelihood of being published. Having solved the problem "independently" may be a personal victory, but not much else. Whether or not the work clears the bar for novelty required for publication is an orthogonal question - solving a problem independently does not indicate the work is novel. Mar 14 at 13:42
  • 1
    @NuclearHoagie - sounds like an answer, please put it in the answer box!
    – cag51
    Mar 14 at 14:46

1 Answer 1


Let me get this right. You used an existing article to solve a problem that was already solved in that article, but you hadn't realised it. Moreover the method used in that article is more direct (I guess you mean simpler).

It is best to withdraw the paper, unless your method for solving the problem is new and could be useful for other problems in the future. But then you need to rewrite the article with that in view.

  • The question is the author did not realized it as well. For solving the problem part, I would say he didn't solve it(or claim to solve it) in one manuscript, we need to combine the later result to get the conclusion. The confusing part is he never combined his result which is a trivial step. The worst part is I can't contact the author because he passed away
    – Ken.Wong
    Mar 14 at 13:38
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    Now you are saying the author of the paper did not realise he solved the problem himself? This is all very strange; you should probable rephrase or open a new question explaining your problem correctly. Mar 14 at 15:42

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