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I am from a social science field. As a part of my dissertation I have published a paper on my topic in a journal with good standing. In that paper, I propose a framework to analyze an issue and related topics. This got published, even received several citations in the last year.

Today, I came across another work, released one year before my work using a very similar framework with a massively different interpretation and application.

I will try my best explain the similarities as an example.

We both look at socioeconomic standings of a populations (in different countries, with different focuses) but we use the same two parameters (let's say positive / negative and happiness / unhappiness) and combine them, in slightly different manners. I merge these parameters to create four categories and analyze these categories depending on data - collected by myself. The other one quantifies these categories on their data - collected by themselves, through topics derived from the literature.

So our way to analyze, at least in the beginning, are similar, however, our focus (as in what aspect and which populations we are looking at), findings, cases, utilizations are incredibly different.

Interestingly, we only share one source throughout all this. However at the end of the day, we are both focused on positive / negative / happiness / unhappiness combination. There are more differences involved by the way. Coding scheme, focus within the field, the cases we compare, quantification, etc.

What do I do? Should I even do something about this or yes, two people can develop similar frameworks from different sources and utilize it as their own. They do sound same, which is a worry for me.

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    Bear in mind, your reviewers didn't spot this either, or if they did, they didn't feel it was worth asking you to add a citation.
    – Anonymous
    Apr 16 at 23:37
  • I think the part that really hit me is that we use the same "frames" and our starting point is similar and explanation we give for these points. It's still a relatively quite new work -the other one and mine as well- and that worried me quite a bit but again we draw from different sources, use very same categories but the way we handle the application is different. So similar "branding", similar explanations but utilization is different. I will mention that work in the future but again, thanks for the insight! Apr 17 at 6:42
  • Interestingly, we only share one source throughout all this Did you try to investigate the other papers citing this one source? maybe you find the big inspirator of all your independent works!
    – EarlGrey
    Apr 17 at 9:39
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    This is an opportunity of collaboration or at least a dialog with the only other person on the planet that understand your perception to such depth. Go ahead. Write that author of the other paper and suggest an online meeting. Apr 17 at 10:40
  • @NielsHolst Exactly. See if the author of the other framework is interested in a collaborative review of the two frameworks that's partially comparative. Perhaps a new insight can be found.
    – Mast
    Apr 17 at 14:01

1 Answer 1

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You do not need to "do" anything right now. Congratulations on publishing a paper that is attracting interest from other people in your field!

If you publish more in this area, now that you've found this other work that is similar to yours you should cite it as appropriate and relevant so that people reading your work can connect it to what other people are doing.

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  • Alright, so I had a little panic attack when I came across the other research but you are saying there is no need to worry and all? I mean, I am happy to cite it in the future, again there are differences but I am really scared that somebody can read both papers and think: yep this guy pulled from that guy... even though, only single source is shared. - and thanks! Apr 16 at 14:38
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    @isthisablunder If they have any extensive experience in research, they'll know these sorts of things happen all the time. Yes, it's possible someone familiar with the other work will see yours and be suspicious about the similarly, but you'll just have to let them be. It won't be the first or last time that another human assumes something wrongly negative about you, that's just life. It apparently wasn't something so well known that the people peer reviewing your paper would recognize it. The similarities may be standing out to you now, but you also mentioned some substantial differences.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 16 at 14:45
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    You might also want to get in touch with the other researcher and see if you can collaborate!
    – jsavn
    Apr 17 at 13:26
  • @jsavn I see similar suggestions here a lot, but I don't think merely having come up with a superficially similar framework necessary suggests collaboration; I would advise collaboration when someone else brings an additional necessary piece to your project. It's possible that also applies in this case, but isn't evident just from the situation described. It's not necessary to reach out to every person doing something similar to see if they want to collaborate.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 17 at 15:59
  • @BryanKrause, fair enough! I'm a junior researcher and to me this looks like an opportunity to reach out, and I think I would have appreciated the same suggestion if I was in OP's shoes. I also appreciate I don't know a lot about the situation, and I appreciate a more tempered response also. THanks!
    – jsavn
    Apr 17 at 16:19

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