Ethics, Copyright and Plagiarism in Academia

Google Scholar is great! It is my primary tool to find academic work, it lists all kind of publications and often provides direct access to the PDF versions of the papers. Another nice feature is that, after creating an account, it proposes “interesting” articles based on the work you published and search terms you used before. Recently, I saw such a Google Scholar Update: Another Paper (let’s refer to it as [X]) cited two of my publications.

Great! Let’s have a look in the paper. Mhmm, sounds like other people do nearly the same as we did. Let’s see what their results are… Hmmm! Sounds like other people do exactly the same as we did!

And what is more: Two papers of us were cited – but the most recent paper submitted to the EMISA 2013 workshop wasn’t. It’s not just that the results presented are more or less equal – this non-cited paper uses very, very, very similar wording in comparison to [X].

Some uncommented facts:

We published the preprint version of “BPMN 2.0 Serialization – Standard Compliance Issues and Evaluation of Modeling Tools” at the end of July 2013 on the website of our chair. The EMISA workshop took place September, 5-6th 2013 and the official proceedings have been published shortly afterwards.

The first submission deadline for the conference the other paper was submitted to, was the end of September 2013 (which has been further extended to mid of October 2013).

What we wrote:

Looks like this in [X]:
Or: ethics-emisa2
Becomes: ethics-x-2

Not enough?
Our paper:
The other one:

And one last snippet:
ethics-emisa4 vs. ethics-x-4

And so on. Draw your own conclusions…

As I noticed the other paper even before the conference took place, I discussed the issue with my advisor, who contacted the organizers of the conference. They promised to go into the matter: The reviewers and the authors of [X] were informed and should comment on the issue. Finally, we got the notification that the paper has been withdrawn from the conference and it will be retracted from the official proceedings.

As I think this is an adequate reaction I do not blame and name the conference. Neither, I blame the anonymous reviewers of [X]: There are hundreds of (more or less) relevant Journals, conferences and workshops where academic work in computer science, information systems and process modeling can be published. It isn’t possible to know all published articles – especially if they are not written by some well-known and well-recognized expert, or if they are not published at a “A” journal/conference.

So, detecting plagiarism generally is hard – unless you are directly involved and Google Scholar thankfully notifies you…


Update: 2015-03-04:

Finally, almost a year after the detection of the plagiarism, after more than 20 mails to the conference organizing committee and the Springer editors,  it is officially marked as “retracted” at Springerlink and a retraction note has been published:


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