Google Scholar is a great tool for finding research papers, throughout my PhD I’ve used it several times per week every week. It also does a great job of alerting you when your papers receive a new citation. There’s not really any value to this directly, but it’s nice to wake up to an email that says someone found your work useful enough to cite in their own.

This morning was slightly different. I got a new citation notification, I always click through and look at the papers when I get these because I reckon they went to the trouble of reading my paper, I could do the same for theirs. I clicked through to the paper and started reading.

About two lines in I got a strange feeling. By the fourth line I was uneasy, and by the tenth line I was sure. This was my writing. I hadn’t accidentally opened my own paper and started reading. The title, format and authors were different, but the content was unmistakably mine.

What had happened was these two “authors” had taken a paper of mine published at an IEEE conference in 2013, changed the title, cut out some sections and submitted it to a journal as their own. Here are the two papers for comparison, I’ve downloaded the PDF and rehosted it because I don’t feel the “journal” that allowed this to happen deserves any extra traffic. Here is my original paper, and here is the offending paper.

I’ve never seen this happen before, so maybe it’s more common that I realise, but it’s a new experience for me. The journal in question promises acceptance notifications of 3 days and publication within another 72 hours. Plenty of time to do thorough peer review I’m sure. It claims an Impact Factor of 2.27 though I somehow doubt this is an official Thompson Reuters figure.

As a researcher who has run up against paywalls before, I fully support the idea of open access publishing, but unfortunately “journals” such as this one give the movement a very bad name.


EDIT: The paper has since been removed after I emailed the ‘journal’. I also emailed the papers ‘authors’ but didn’t hear anything from them. I also had to remove the link to the PDF copy of the paper from my site and replace it with a PNG because Google Scholar picked up the paper again.