I've found some code that I've posted online that has a BSD license published in a supplementary material of a different group in a high impact journal. The authors have replaced the name on the license with one of the co-author's names and added a header on my code. They weren't too careful and didn't delete my name and email some lines below that header. I've contacted the corresponding author that promised me that he'll contact the publisher to correct it and nothing has happened in the past 3 months or so.

What would you do?

EDIT - Update.... It took 6 months from the moment I contacted the authors, and 3 months after I contacted the publisher to issue a Correction\Corrigendum that gave me credit for my code.*

  • 44
    contact the publisher asap. By contacting the authors, you will give them time to handle their cheating.
    – user35129
    Mar 4, 2017 at 7:14
  • Contact PubPeer, RetractionWatch
    – Wapatoo J
    Mar 4, 2017 at 19:37
  • 18
    Since it is a clear case of intentional plagiarism, I don't think you should discuss anything with the authors - you should report it to the journal.
    – Greg
    Mar 5, 2017 at 2:45
  • 14
    Whether your code was under BSD license or a closed-source license is irrelevant from the fact that it is plagiarism. Copyright violation has nothing to do with plagiarism.
    – Bakuriu
    Mar 5, 2017 at 10:28

1 Answer 1


This seems to be a clear case of plagiarism, and potentially a copyright violation.

The BSD license contains a line "Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer". If that was included in your Original code, then it seems that this was breached by the article authors.

But even in the case that this line was not included, then it seems to be still a case of plagiarism, as they are passing your work as theirs.

Contact the editor (or editorial office) of the journal. Provide them with a description of what happened (basically as you described in your question). Also provide links to your originally online published source code. If you can, add proof of when you published it there (e.g. log files).

It would not hurt to also keep a copy of their present version of the source code they published, just in case it 'vanishes' from the internet and you want to show (e.g. to the editor/publisher) how they plagiarized you.

  • 1
    is it plagiarism really? this is not the entire paper, this is a piece of code that the research used as a tool to obtain results. for some reason they published that code in their supp. material and put their name on it...
    – bla
    Mar 5, 2017 at 5:08
  • 1
    I've anyway contacted the editor... let's see what happens
    – bla
    Mar 5, 2017 at 5:58
  • 35
    @bla: taking your code and putting their own name on is very clearly plagiarism. Mar 5, 2017 at 6:46
  • 15
    They claim other people's work as their own (by putting their name on), not making clear what is their own contribution viz. the original authors (perhaps they edited the code, but if it is based on yours, they have to make clear what they did). It's plagiarism, no ifs no buts. Mar 5, 2017 at 12:11
  • 1
    @bla In addition to the steps in this answer, I would strongly urge you to carefully document all your actions and all the circumstances in this case, and if possible to do so via third-party witnesses. (E.g. can the code be seen through the Wayback Machine?.) It may also be acceptable to inform the scientific directors of the authors' institutions about this case - a serious institution should take this as good cause to start an investigation.
    – E.P.
    Mar 5, 2017 at 16:40

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