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I recently found out that a theoretical concept of mine (published at 2020) has been presented as a new contribution in some conference published in 2023 without citing my 2020 paper. I reached out to the authors seeking clarification, and they explained it was an oversight on their part, as my concept is integral to the title of my paper and readily accessible on Google Scholar. Although I've contacted the editors of the conference proceedings, I haven't received a response.

Can anyone suggest whom else I can reach out to, and what steps can be taken to address this situation ?

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    Did they cite your 2020 work? Commented Jan 23 at 15:33
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    Independent development of ideas happens. Without many more details it would be difficult to determine malice.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jan 23 at 15:43
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    @mahou_2019 That's not the standard. The idea that they didn't see your paper is surprising but it's not by itself an indication of plagiarism. After all, the reviewers clearly weren't aware of it either.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Jan 23 at 16:05
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    Does your paper show up on Web of Science for example? Personally I don't bother using Google to search technical literature. And whatever 'detail' is in a title likely is not as descriptive as you might think. You seem very sure they intentionally did not find and cite your paper, and you have not shown that at all. Of course, with a 3-year head start you should be well down the road of further developments anyway.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jan 23 at 16:06
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    @mahou_2019 Is there only one possible phrase to describe the concept? Are you saying that they use the same phrase as you used in your title, so they should have googled the phrase and found your paper?
    – toby544
    Commented Jan 24 at 11:01

3 Answers 3

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In truth, with millions of scientific articles published every year, not everyone can know every relevant article. People will miss some, even with the best of intentions. When that happens, one can politely point out that you had a related paper, but that's about everything you can do -- you can't reasonably demand that they correct the record, nor should you be mad about the situation.

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  • In such situation, the conference editors may ask authors to write a "Correction to" one-page-paper in which they should clarify some errors or missing parts and state that the original paper is updated according to that !
    – mahou_2019
    Commented Jan 24 at 23:06
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    As an editior myself, I would see no reason to ask authors to do that. If they genuinely did not know about the paper (and I see no reason to believe that they did not), they did not do anything wrong. Commented Jan 25 at 0:44
  • Like explained below, authors may add a note at the end of the paper like "at the time of publication the authors didn't know about the 2020 work.". This says that not all editors behave similarly in such situations, fortunately !
    – mahou_2019
    Commented Jan 26 at 2:10
  • @mahou_2019 They could, but as I said I don't see a reason why they would need to. If you make them do it, someone else might ask for a second correction, and soon everyone would demand corrections of everyone. Each of these corrections collectively requires a couple of hours of work -- for what? How does this make science better? Commented Jan 27 at 0:24
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You seem to have done what you can do for the moment. Wait a bit for the response from the conference committee. It isn't likely to come in a week or so. But, also think about what you requested from them and what is possible for them to do.

The good part is that the authors have acknowledged the error. The rest takes time, decisions, and effort.

It is possible that while their work duplicates yours, that there was no intent to plagiarize, just sloppy research. Not good, of course, but it doesn't reflect badly on you. You have the publication and the history is clear.

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    And lets not forget, some fields grow extremely fast, and duplication or overlap of work is getting increasingly common, completely without malicious intent. Only if they resist citing OP in future work, I would become suspicious. Commented Jan 24 at 5:25
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"Plagiarism is the practice of taking credit for someone else’s work." It is not plagiarism if they did their work ignorant of your work. From what you say they are not taking credit for your work. They might be duplicating your work, but that isn't plagiarism.

You've contacted the editors, and there isn't much else to do. The most likely outcome here is nothing happens, the next most likely outcome is a note at the end of the 2023 work saying something like "at the time of publication the authors didn't know about the 2020 work." Maybe that will show up in the abstract as well, but that seems even less likely to me than at the end of the body of the text. I doubt the word plagiarism will be used outside this stack by anyone but you.

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  • Duplication happens when different terms with their formal definitions refer to the same semantics, here authors may miss some papers by looking at litterature for one concept rather than other ones that are semantically equivalent to the first one. However, when you try to propose a new concept you should make sure it does not exist in litterature otherwise you should cite what exists and compare it with what you try to propose. If authors use a previously published concept with the same formal definition and claim clearly that is a new contribution, I don't see how to call that !?
    – mahou_2019
    Commented Jan 26 at 2:02
  • "a note at the end of the 2023 work saying something like "at the time of publication the authors didn't know about the 2020 work.".......This will be enough for me !
    – mahou_2019
    Commented Jan 26 at 2:04

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