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I posted a highly-upvoted answer on Skeptics Stack Exchange based upon numerous Chronicling America database newspaper quotations, and chatted in comments about this with a psychology professor.

The professor, listing himself as sole author, then submitted an article with highly overlapping content to a peer reviewed journal, without any citation to my Stack Exchange answer.

(More specifically, in Stack Exchange comments, I criticized a specific 2012 paper of the professor, which was primarily based upon google book ngrams, and showed in my answer numerous quotations from the Chronicling America database that result in a different conclusion. The professor then submitted an update of his 2012 paper to the same journal adding numerous quotations from the Chronicling America database.)

Is this ethical? I've only published in chemistry/biochemistry journals and don't have any idea what is typical for psychology journals.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Note that comments cannot be migrated twice, so any additional comments not directly related to the question will simply be deleted. – eykanal Jun 26 '17 at 16:58
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General Case

Ideally the author should acknowledge you in an acknowledgements section if you contribute assistance in some way. Unless you wrote part of the article, authorship is not warranted.

This Case

The post your wrote was quite good and provides a lot of good material, but other than saving a researcher time, it doesn't appear to do any original research. That's in line with the policies of Skeptics.SE as well. Likewise, while the person asking the question has reasonable grounds to be skeptical of the claims, the thesis is not novel.

I will also note that it the edit history shows that you started working on the answer in June 2017. The letter to the editor that you linked to says that it is in press as of the same month. I'm not sure what the lead time is like on that journal, but I wouldn't be surprised if the author has been working on the paper for significantly longer than you were working the Stack Exchange post. This is somewhat borne out by the author's publication history - they previously wrote on the same topic.

In short, it appears that you were both working on the same material independently before encountering each other.

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    In the article the professor says he conducted his database searches on 7 June, which is 2 days (US time) after I posted my initial answer. – DavePhD Jun 23 '17 at 20:34
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    @DavePhD Yeah, I noticed that as well. I'm assuming good faith in that the author had an interest in the subject before seeing your post given their publication history. I think the SE post might have given them some more ideas for places to search (I would acknowledge someone for that), but the SE post is very bibliographic which makes it tough to argue for authorship. – anonymous Jun 23 '17 at 20:39
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    @DavePhD, I replied to your comments in the previous discussion. Please let me know what original text, data, or ideas you think I used without acknowledging it. As I noted above: I've been one of the few people working on this topic since 2012. I was notified of the StackExchange discussion on June 6 and that prompted me to write an update, based on material I've bee collecting since 2012 and a new search that took me a couple of hours on June 7. – MDG Jun 24 '17 at 0:53
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    @DavePhD: I will be happy to acknowledge that I got the idea of searching Chronicling America from the discussion. Just contact me by email if you want me to use your real name. On a final note (I know it's tiresome, but given the context I'll be extra precise): I didn't even copy the quotes from the discussion--I didn't know what search criteria you had used, and I wanted to see how many standard/reversed quotes I would get within the same search. – MDG Jun 24 '17 at 3:17
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    Also, you wrote "The professor, listing himself as sole author, then submitted an article with highly overlapping content to a peer reviewed journal, without any citation": that definitely reads like a charge of plagiarism, which is no small stuff. – MDG Jun 24 '17 at 3:19

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