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I have an essay online on a dense philosophical text. One sentence of my paraphrasing or interpretation of this text has been copied verbatim in a now-published journal article. In that article, the sentence is attributed to the original author of the philosophical text, not to my essay. The article was published this year; my text was written over five years ago.

This upsets me because

  1. I believe I have been plagiarized
  2. The authors are asserting my paraphrasing and interpretation of the text as their own, and in the process skipping the work of interpreting the original text, along with misleading their readers. If the authors want to use the text to support their argument, they should paraphrase it themselves, or quote directly (and who knows, my interpretation could be wildly off!).

Regardless, can any one advise on the best way to report or address this, or what I should expect if I do so?

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    How many words in the sentence that you believe it was plagiarized? – qsp Nov 20 '15 at 0:54
  • @qsp: It could still be that the idea itself was plagiarized, regardless of the word count. Harder to prove, perhaps, but still potentially plagiarism nonetheless. – tonysdg Nov 20 '15 at 1:20
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    "In that article, the sentence is attributed to the original author of the philosophical text ... The authors are asserting my paraphrasing and interpretation of the text as their own". I'm confused. – Peter Taylor Nov 20 '15 at 16:36
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    @wxs: Are you certain your own essay did not make it seem like you are quoting the original text? Maybe this was just a mistake made by the article's author? (I'm not saying this is okay, quoting a text without checking if what they are quoting is in the actual text is sloppy, at the very least, but, as they say, never attribute to malice that which can be explained by mere incompetence and/or laziness. Not the first time around, anyway. ;)) – tomasz Nov 21 '15 at 10:49
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    @wxs: Perhaps you could simply contact the authors and clear up the whole mess without going to the editor over their heads? I don't have any directly relevant experience, but I believe that it's generally better to solve problems cordially, without involving higher authority, whenever it's possible. – tomasz Nov 21 '15 at 20:25
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Contact the editor of the journal, present your suspicions, and be prepared to submit evidence supporting your claim.

  • I'm not so sure that a journal editor would, or even should, proceed with plagiarism charges on the basis of a single sentence. – Nate Eldredge Dec 28 '15 at 18:33
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    With one sentence, there is a high probability that this is just how the author wrote it himself, without copying the poster. For example, it would be quite possible that someone typed an answer identical to tonysdg's one sentence. No copying, no plagiarism. And then there is the question whether anyone would care if one sentence is copied without attribution. – gnasher729 Nov 2 '16 at 11:53

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