Before I start my PhD I worked in a group that researched on the application of a particular area to a particular domain. No other research group published work in this area+domain. So I can safely say that my previous group is among the first if not the first to research in the application of that particular research area on that particular domain.

Now I find a paper published at an IEEE conference where a major part of its contribution is introducing a system that does something I did in a previously published paper, and it does it in the exact same way and even gives it the same name!

I know that some conferences could accept non-novel contributions. Also the paper talks about other aspects so I find it perfectly fine that this paper has been accepted and published. But what I find annoying is that they do not cite my relevant work which was published a year earlier and fairly visible online; A simple (unpersonalized) search on Google would show up at least three links to my work.

This is the second time I face this problem, but the first time this happened it was actually by the same group I worked with before; they published a related paper without citing the paper I co-authored with them.

I try to give the maximum possible exposure to my work by making it publicly available on my personal website, ResearchGate, making sure it appears on Google Scholar, etc..

I find it worrying that my work misses citations, I am keen on improving my h-index and citations count. So my questions are:

  1. Is there anything I can do regarding that already-published paper?
  2. Is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening in the future?

6 Answers 6


That happens. Maybe they didn't do a thorough literature study before they published, or they did but before your work was available. This is more frequent than we would like to think. Note that it's generally expected from authors to have done a reasonable effort in searching for previous work, but it's not unethical per se not to reference every previous publication that could be relevant (it's also practically very hard).

Is there anything I can do regarding that already-published paper?

No, missing a previous related work is not a valid motivation to complain to the authors or editors. Just forget about it and move on.

Is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening in the future?

Yes, become so influential in your field that reviewers will know your work enough to spot when someone else submit a related work without citing yours.

Side note:

I am keen on improving my h-index and citations count.

Without going into how this might not be what you should focus on (while very good researchers tend to have a high citation count, the inverse relation is not always true), the best way to do that is to produce high-quality research, preferably on a hot research topic.

  • 12
    This answer doesn't leave much scope for an alternative attempt at answering this question. (+1 implied). Nevertheless, I would've wanted to add, that since the paper in question is already published, there is no point in complaining now. But in many fields (like theoretical high-energy physics), it is customary to upload a preprint on arXiv either in parallel, or sometimes even before submitting to a journal. In such cases, writing to the authors, if they are missing something crucial, generally helps.
    – 299792458
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 14:27
  • 3
    @TheDarkSide good point. Plus uploading pre-prints in fields where it's customary might reduce the risk of someone missing your work during the publication latency.
    – Cape Code
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 14:33
  • 5
    Cape, while i agree that the best thing for the OP to do is to produce high-quality research, unfortunately there are some schools/departments (and the OP might need a job at one of them) that do not know the difference between high and mediocre-quality work in the specific field that the OP is referring to and might rely on citation count. it's really sad, but that's a consequence of the glut of PhDs out there. Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 15:48
  • 1
    But they also gave it the same name… can we really rule out plagiarism, in this case? Of course, it depends on how much complicated and non-obvious is that name.
    – o0'.
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 17:22
  • @Lohoris I trust OP's judgment that it's not plagiarism. If they did their own computation/experiments and wrote original text and happened to reach the same conclusions, it's a replication not plagiarism.
    – Cape Code
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 6:21

Adding to the perfectly fine answers that already have been given: The authors of the respective paper could honestly not be aware of your previous work. You could send them an email saying something like "I really appreciated your article about this and that. I myself have published in the same area, see attached paper".


It may not entirely apply to OP's question, but the study Dion et al.: "Gendered Citation Patterns across Political Science and Social Science Methodology Fields" reveals that there may, indeed, be subtle biases in which papers get considered foundational or central, and therefore garner more citations.

As the other answers noted, self-promoting, getting involved in the review process, better networking, and emailing your work to authors when you see a relevant preprint on Arxiv, all might help. In the case of inequality, one could speculate that some authors engage in these activities more than others, or that innate biases mean that other people's prejudices affect the effectiveness of said activities.

I read a piece recently (can't seem to find it on Google now) that called for removing citation limits and encouraging more comprehensive referencing, to better acknowledge the contributions of young and minority investigators. The implication was that: when the number of references is limited, authors favor works by established (often white-male) colleagues, which might be considered more "canonical", simply due to network effects.

We might be able to improve this as peer-reviewers: whenever we get a manuscript to review, we should always perform a comprehensive literature search to ensure that the authors are not unintentionally ignoring some papers—especially works by young or minority researchers, which may be high quality but neglected due to bias and network effects.


The only thing that you can really do is become well known so that you or your students / postdocs are constantly sent these papers to review. Then you can be the one adding "hey you didn't cite me" to your review.

If you think it's so severe that they are plagiarizing your work then you should write the editor, but good luck with that.


I don't want to be the debbie downer here, but it might be that your work is not that relevant or high-quality at all.

I suppose you publish in English, even if being German, since this is the most common case in your field. So, there is a high probability that the author came across your work during a keyword research of the literature.

Maybe they read it, but thought it was misleading, or even flawed, and not worth citing. If things don't work as you expect, then it's time to let someone review your work carefully.

And, as others pointed out, you can not do anything about what others cite in their papers.

  • 1
    "high probability that the author came across your work during a keyword research of the literature." In my field, the issue is that different sub-communities often use different terminology for the same concepts. So it's rather easy to overlook some crucially related work. Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 13:05

It happens all the time that some papers do not cite all the relevant work. And there is nothing to do about that" But if you really think that they have plagiarized your work, you could contact the editor about plagiarism. But if it is just for a missing citation, the editor will not do anything about it. How to get cited in the future? As said previously, you can work on some hot topics and make yourself more visible by becoming more influential in your field, so people will be more aware of your work. It is also good to put you papers online. But it does not guarantee that other researchers will actually read them.

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