My project work which i was planning to publish somebody else published just 1 month before. what should i do? Is my total research work of 8 months going to be a waste? I was working for a novel phytochemical and planned to publish my paper. When i submitted the journal manuscript in December, the editor replied in the month of January that some other Chinese group published paper for the same product in January. Is my whole research of 8 months going to be a wastage. What other options do i have? Please suggests.
This is a common problem that researchers face. The fear of being scooped partially explains the publish or perish culture in academia. This is definitely a setback for you, but there are a few options which you can consider to make at least some use of all those months of research:
You can try to build on the published paper. If required, conduct a few more experiments and move over to the next logical step in the idea.
Using your original idea as a base, try to come up with a related but new research question that allows you to use some of the old data.
Go through your paper again and see if there is any secondary finding that you might not have focused on at that point of time, but which could be developed into a new research idea.
Now that you have been scooped once, you should try to get your results out before anybody else does. Since the publication process of journals can take up a lot of time, one thing you can do to avoid getting scooped is post a pre-print or present at a conference as soon as you finish your research. Also, make sure that you do not take too long to write your manuscript. You should actually start writing certain sections, such as the methods and results section as and when you perform the experiments. That way, you will be able to save up on the writing time.
Most importantly, do not lose motivation. The fear of being scooped is part of a researcher's life and there is no foolproof system in place to avoid it. So just keep your spirits up and move on.
Some journals (like PLOS One) specifically accept papers like this ("scooped research") as long as it has only been a short time since the first paper came out. It is certainly not a wasted effort, because two people independently getting the same results on an important problem only increases the confidence that the solution is correct. But you should carefully go through the other paper before you try to just publish your work - you will probably find some hole or assumption or other imperfection that you can base another paper around that came from your own work.