I partnered with my former professor to establish a social research-based organization. We had a plan to pursue a federal grant. In pursuit of the grant, we brought some volunteer RAs on board to help us with some of the work. The research focus was suggested by my co-PI and I looped in one of our RAs to do a literature review write up to hone in on the research question, which was my idea.
My RA offered to take on the full literature review, despite my offer to split the work with her. I had other projects to work on so I gave her permission to move forward with the literature review on her own. Long story short, my co-PI is taking a leave of absence and wanted to put the grant proposal on hold so he suggested that perhaps I could partner with our (now former) RA to take our literature review and see if we could submit it for publication. She and I agreed to move forward with it based on the large body of work she did, and I offered to have her as first author, and myself as second author, because of all the work she put in.
Over the last couple of days, I have been doing a lot of editing on the manuscript and putting it together so that it would make the best package for publication. Part of my due diligence was to submit it for a plagiarism scan and it came back with a 75% similarity report. It would seem that she didn’t understand what I was looking for when I requested a literature review and essentially copied and pasted information she thought was relevant into a document and submitted that as the review.
Based on this, I told her that we would not be able to move forward with the publication plan, as I had hoped. One, because I don’t have the time to rewrite what I thought was already written, and two, because at this point, I have lost some trust in working with her. She said she understood and today she emailed me and asked if it was OK for her to take the idea and pursue publication. I am inclined to say no because the project was spearheaded by my co-PI who is currently out on personal leave and I don’t want to bother him with this and also because the research idea was mine. Am I wrong?
To clarify, when I approached her about plagiarism, she shared that that’s what she understood a literature review to be. She was educated outside of the US in the medical field. Is it possible that’s how she was taught? I don’t know, but her intention now is to use the research she did for her version of a literature review and actually write a paper for publishing.