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I recently sent the following letter to a journal of questionable reputation:

To whom it may concern:

In the [Journal Redacted], in the paper titled [Paper Redacted] by [Authors Redacted], the following section is plagiarized from Wikipedia:

[Text Redacted]

That section is copied from this Wikipedia article: [Link Redacted]

Thanks,

[Signature Redacted]

They replied with the following:

Dear Mr. [Name Redacted], As you mention that there is plagiarism. Yes, I read the research again but that part is from introduction. Introduction part is not part of the research. Please read it again...

I replied with:

Sir or Madam,

You are correct that is from the introduction, but any usage of non-original material whether part of the research or not must be properly cited or it is plagiarism. Even if this were an opinion piece and not research, this would be plagiarism. I expect this will be addressed soon.

Thanks,

[Signature Redacted]

They replied with:

Dear sir, I will inform to author for proper reference citation of the paper.

What do I do at this point? If they take corrective action, it will take some time. How much time is it appropriate to give them before I report them elsewhere?

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    "report them elsewhere" - like where? There is no organization that polices journals. – ff524 Nov 18 '15 at 16:10
  • @ff524 There are private groups that expose journals that allow plagiarism. – called2voyage Nov 18 '15 at 16:15
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    @ff524, Wikipedia might want to chip in... – vonbrand Nov 18 '15 at 16:20
  • Is the journal paper author the same as the Wikipedia page author? Do you know which one was written first? If the author is the same then I guess it wouldn't be plagiarism, but perhaps a cite would be appropriate or required? – James Nov 19 '15 at 12:39
  • @James The Wikipedia text was written first. I am fairly certain it is not the same author, but I suppose it is not completely impossible. – called2voyage Nov 19 '15 at 14:12
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The responses that you received from the journal show that it is not just questionable but clearly predatory and rubbish. No sane scientific publication venue would say 1) wholesale plagiarism doesn't count in the introduction and 2) it can be addressed just by adding a reference.

The journal clearly has no interest or intention toward rectifying the situation, and it's almost a pure waste of your time to interact with the journal more at this point.

At this point, there are two actions that make sense for you to do:

  1. If it's a "pay-to-publish" open access journal, make sure it gets included in the predatory publisher list by contacting Jeffrey Beall
  2. Report to Wikipedia, who can decide whether they care enough to pursue.

After that, let it drop: the internet is filled with vast sewers of low quality junk, both scientific and otherwise, and you've got better things to do with your time.

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    This is good advice. I found this paper through a reputable paper search tool that is supposed to filter through only "good" papers. They might also be interested in knowing that this journal is rubbish. – called2voyage Nov 18 '15 at 18:14
  • @called2voyage Then yes, that would be another good place to contact. Basically, report it to the responsible parties who might care and then move on with your life. – jakebeal Nov 18 '15 at 18:14
  • Report to Wikipedia? the whole purpose of Wikipedia is being free and copyright-free, allowed to use/re-distribute/modify by everybody (AFAIR, even commercially!). One do needs to add an attribute to Wikipedia; this is not enforced, and as I understand will not be enforced in the future, though. – Ran G. Nov 19 '15 at 1:56
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    @RanG. Wikipedia is not copyright-free, it is licensed under CC BY-SA. It is true, however, they they generally don't bother with enforcement. – jakebeal Nov 19 '15 at 2:03
  • @jakebeal Right, I meant "free" as in "free to use, re-use, mix, tweak or build upon even for commercial purposes". Basically - you are free to do whatever you wish, as long as you give the right attribute and keep the modified work CC BY-SA as well (which may be violated when published in a journal). – Ran G. Nov 19 '15 at 2:20
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At this point, it would seem that you, the OP who reported the plagiarism, isn't the one being plagiarized, nor do you seem to have any relationship with the author or journal. In other words, you are not the injured party, if there is one, and you have no standing, prerogative, or authority.

Basically this means you have done everything you can or should do, and there's nothing further for you to do.

  • If this were a reputable journal, I would agree with you, but in this case I believe it may be a disreputable journal. As such, this may not be the only case of plagiarism. If they refuse to correct, I would like to expose them, but I would like to know how much time to give them. – called2voyage Nov 18 '15 at 16:14
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    Indeed, you've done your job. Give them (2-3 months) if you really want to get back to them. Otherwise, exposing them doesn't really help or hurt you, so there is no point in wasting your time when you have other things to do. – user42055 Nov 18 '15 at 17:09

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