I'm in a very unique situation. I have ideas of something potentially valuable for science and I want to get it published but I haven't been able to go through the peer-review process, yet. That is why I'm thinking about simply putting all I have on the Internet and leaving it be there to see would any "real" scientist (with the equipment and the position) be interested in them. I don't work in anything related to science and although I have a degree I don't have PhD so it's like I'm nobody.

What is my "protection" if one of those experts (who obviously know much better how to publish) just takes it and puts his/hers name on it even if I manage to show files containing the same ideas loaded on the Internet for public access (so I have the site administration to verify my publication dates) much before his/her work was submitted to a journal?

Does such obviously public documents have any weight against peer-reviewed paper or is the fact that s/he managed to go through the process but I didn't make these ideas his/hers? Is any value in the fact that a document is publicly displayed before the submission date or does the fact that it's publication anyways make it "the real deal" while the other document, even if it can be shown to be earlier by outside source (like the administration of the web site)? If I just "publish" it on the Internet under the Creatice Commons license does it give it any authority in any way measurable to a peer-reviewed publication or anybody who has one can claim ownership over the ideas?

P.S. Can the entire issue be "dissolved" quickly if the one who got it published in a peer-review journal just mentions my work in the acknowledgements and says these ideas were mine and s/he just "used" them. Then is the authorship of the ideas automatically transferred to me and the issue is non-existent? But what if I ask him/her and s/he refuses. Then, can I claim authorship of the ideas or are they out of my reach now and I would just have to be satisfied with the fact that at least now they have gained some form of recognition (although I'm not their author in the eyes of the community)? (The issue is I just want scientists to view my work seriously, I don't do it for the money, the job or the fame. I just want to know am I right or wrong, so what if someone just uses and claims authorship-should I be satisfied only with the fact that I was right all along or should I try to pursue him/her for non-proper use of my ideas.)

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    Why would an 'expert' do that?
    – Jon Custer
    Mar 10, 2017 at 17:06
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    Because I propose something original no one has proposed before and although I have no Ph D the paradigm and the methodology it produces can still be useful for a researcher. If you just stumble on an interesting methodology someone with no background in science proposes but you think it can help you design new experiments and explain your results would you consider pursuing it, although it isn't peer-reviewed? Mar 10, 2017 at 18:17
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    How about discussing potential collaboration with researchers near you! perhaps they can help you with writing a nice paper that can be published in a good journal.
    – The Guy
    Mar 10, 2017 at 18:41

2 Answers 2


There are sites like arxiv.org where you can publish something, which isn't peer-reviewed yet, but which becomes public and stakes a claim to the idea.

However, that's usually what some people (usually at universities, not companies) do when they have a full-fledged paper to release. In your case it sounds, if I read this correctly, like you have some general ideas you have not yet had a chance to pursue in depth. You're considering putting them out and inviting others to run with them, but want some credit. I would say that if you simply put out a general idea, that is worth an acknowledgment in a paper, not co-authorship. Being an author means actually doing some of the work -- writing text, doing experiments, etc. I don't think what you describe rises to that level.

One thing you might consider doing is putting out enough information to tease people into inquiring for more information, then trying to work with anyone who inquires to be more directly involved in the work as it proceeds.

  • Actually, you're on the top @FredDouglis ! This is exactly my case. I want to put something and one journal may want to publish it (I actually managed to find a journal that is pure reviewed and can accept my manuscript-I wrote to them but they have $2000 fee and I just don't have the money-little and poor country) so the more I think the more the Internet is my only option. This is why I'm thinking about the authorship issue here. I just want to gain some recognition, not get into courts and copyright issues. An acknowledgement will be fine. My question is can the ArXiv be sufficient for it? Mar 10, 2017 at 18:26
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    I've never used ArXiv myself so I don't know enough about it. I've seen citations to it occasionally. I don't know your field, but in computer science, there are a number of journals that do not charge, unless you want to make the article available via open access. Otherwise to access the article people must pay to download, or have some form of subscription. Perhaps you can find a different peer-reviewed journal or get them to waive their fee due to your circumstances. Of course, it still has be something a journal would choose to accept for publication. Mar 10, 2017 at 18:37
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    @YordanYordanov To post it on the arXiv, it will need to be on topic for some part of the arXiv (and you need to pick which one, which seems to be one of your problems). Further, you will need someone who already has a record of posting papers in that topic to endorse you, which will involve sending them the manuscript, and this seems to be something you are very afraid of doing. That said, if you can satisfy these conditions, the arXiv is a good place for preprints and certainly establishes priority. Mar 10, 2017 at 20:17

Two comments for you:

  1. You commented that you found a journal that wants your paper but is asking you for $2000. Take care that this is not a "predatory journal," that is to say, a fake website imitating an academic journal in order to take your money.
  2. If you really need to get credit for this idea ASAP, you can always post it to viXra. This is virtually the same as uploading it to your personal website. At least it will be time stamped, which is proof you publicized your idea at a specific time.

It is up to you if you want to risk publicizing your idea on one hand, with the benefit of establishing precedent for yourself on the other hand. That is really an individual choice.

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    No, putting it on viXra is not virtually the same as putting it on your personal website. If you put it on viXra, many people will decide to not look at it any further based solely on that fact. It will still establish priority in case of a dispute, but simply posting it there will label you as a crank to many. Mar 11, 2017 at 15:12

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