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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.

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    Have you discussed it with your supervisor or senior colleague? – Dmitry Savostyanov Feb 25 '16 at 9:46
  • Actually we submitted the manuscript then the journal editor highlighted this issue in front of my guide – subhasree Feb 25 '16 at 10:37
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    Perhaps the more important question is whether you can still get your degree without this publication. That may still be possible and the thesis can, perhaps, stand. In that sense it wouldn't really be wastage. Especially if you learned things about research. – Buffy Jun 26 at 17:23
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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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  • Hey Kakoli thank you so much actually even i also came up with the additional finding idea. Thanks i will start working on it and this time for sure no delay. Thanx duh – subhasree Feb 25 '16 at 10:34
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    I'm curious, what's wrong with two independent parties publishing very similar studies at the same time? Surely it would be useful to compare similar studies, since it would indicate consistent results. – user21268 Feb 25 '16 at 13:39
  • Hi, could you clarify what you mean by "scooped"? I interpret it as "somebody saw my materials or heard me discuss my idea in some details, then (usually to better funds and larger team) reached or confirmed my result before me". But what actually seems to have happened (the way I see it), is that an independent research group found the same chemical/process/something independently, not based on OPs research. Which is still very uncomfortable, but not as bad (with some good connotations - e.g. somebody actually confirmed the validity of your research). – penelope Jun 27 at 11:22
  • When your research is scooped, it means that somebody else who was conducting the same research without your knowledge has published it before you. The person(or group) that publishes a research first has their name associated with it. So, technically, even if you have spent a lot of time and effort on your research, if somebody else beats you to it, your work will no longer be regarded as unique or novel. Your study would then be seen as replicating the results of the other study. – Kakoli Majumder Jun 28 at 6:21
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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.

  • Yes! Replication is important! – Flyto Jun 27 at 0:00

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