Have you suffered for delay in submission of research paper?

Wrichik Basu

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Say you were doing some research on some topic. You were very enthusiastic with it, and you had devoted a large amount of time in the research. Perhaps you would have been the first to discover something or make a theory on it.

Then all of a sudden, one day you discover that someone else has published a paper before your paper was published, which is exactly the same as what you had discovered. As a result, all your work has been marred.

In the history of development of science, this is not new. Many physicists have faced this, and there can be a list of those who have suffered. Scientists have had to pay a heavy price for a delay in submission of their research papers.

Have you faced something like this? If yes, would you like to share it with us?

This also applies if you have not yet written a paper, but your thoughts were "stolen". For example, you decided on a research topic, made elaborate plans, and just when you start, you find someone has published a paper on the topic very recently.

Please be honest and do not make up a story. If you have genuinely faced this problem, you are free to write here.

N.B.: Please note that if somebody copies content from your research without citing it, that event should not be posted here. Plagiarism is against the ethics of research, and is controversial. Such posts are liable to be deleted by moderators.
 

Charles Link

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Good minds think on similar paths. It hasn't happened to me in the same way as described above, but a couple of things that I was able to come up with, upon further study, were actually implemented previously by other science people. In the case of the Fabry-Perot effect and Michelson interferometer, I thought I had something that was quite unique when I figured out in 2009 that these interferometers can be analyzed by considering the interference from two beams incident on a single interface. I even wrote an Insights article describing this in detail: https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/fabry-perot-michelson-interferometry-fundamental-approach/ I recently found that J.Schwinger, (perhaps around 1940), introduced this method of analyzing an interferometric beamsplitter by use of a matrix, (and it is also written up this way in the Optics text by Born and Wolf).
 
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Here's a couple of examples where grad students were scooped by bigger labs working on the same projects:

http://thegradstudentway.com/blog/?p=206#.W04qO9VKi4o

and how they overcame the shock, disappointment and leveraged their skills to succeed.

Personally, I got bypassed once at work where a coworker who critiqued my project from an enduser perspective got the credit for it. The rectification came a month later when I protested it and was subsequently also given credited. However, in all honesty the work was mine alone from design of a testing language to implementation of an automated software testing system.

When I got stuck on some issue, I would present various alternatives to my coworker and he would critique them, or I would just show him where I'm going with the work. We had a good working relationship until his boss wanting to publicize the system gave him the credit in our monthly newsletter. It was quite devastating to me initially and he knew it and helped to get it fixed the following month.

Some of my invention ideas were routinely scooped once someone discovered some obscure description in an unrelated field that basically did the same thing. In one case while trying to help a newbie inventor, who wanted to create a calorie counting app that used a "magic" stylus that could "read" the calories of food. He was at a loss to explain how the "magic" stylus worked until we told him it was impossible with present technology.

My suggestion was to replace it with a bar coded menu and a bar code reader wand. However, using barcodes to retrieve product info in an inventory context trumped the calorie counting app idea (ie it was invented before) and so the invention was a no go as far as getting a patent.

Another time, I submitted a patent idea on controlling kids phone usage and my company sat on the idea until several months later Sprint announced a program to do exactly what I described then it flew through the system because patent start dates were first to invent not first to file.

In another case, I wrote a program to sort and print a weekly job schedule as a cost improvement. I got $50 bucks based on the saving and the time I spent writing the code. A coworker used the same program on another job scheduling task that was actually smaller and he got $500 because he didn't have to account for time spent writing the code. Go figure.
 

Wrichik Basu

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I am not experienced like @Charles Link or @jedishrfu, but I have also faced this, though on a much smaller scale.

Some time back, I came across a video from the Royal Institution:


An idea came to my mind: why can't I use this for the human eye? In that way, I may be able to restore vision to people who don't have optic nerve problems, but are blind due to other reasons.

I started my research. Having left biology two years back, it was difficult at first. I spent a lot of time in reading Wikipedia articles. Then I contacted some professors, who helped me by sending me some important articles from Nature. I also posted some questions here in PF. It is worth mentioning that @BillTre helped me out with the questions that I considered too trivial to be posted publicly.

This went on for the last four or five months. Earlier this month, I wrote down an approximate strategy on how I would work.

Then I found this: https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/PT.3.3970

Exactly the same basic idea. The only difference is that, they have already made everything, in a much better way.

All hopes marred. But I still consider myself lucky that I was not too late in finding this article.
 
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Charles Link

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@Wrichik Basu I think you are going to find it often to be the case that good minds do think on similar paths. It's a credit to you that you had an idea that was implemented by others who thought the same way.
 
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Don't be discouraged by this, instead think that you have tread in the same footsteps of other great inventors and concluded the same thing. It means you now have the skills to do this and that now you need to have a single minded focus. Not many people even approach this level of inventive skill.

Ultimately, you will be uniquely qualified to do your next idea, you will have the skills and insight and you will succeed because of your training and perseverence.

With respect to this idea, you should now look to the next step in its evolution and the step after that. Eventually they will diverge and you might take one path while others take a different one but you'll get there first.

You might even think of other business opportunities for it that the current group has missed. Basically look for its weakness in design and think of a better way to do it.

You have to think, you're like a magician among many other magicians trying to come up with a trick that is novel, unique and teaches folks some new way to do things.

I said to a boss once who told me the adage: "Great minds think alike." implying that we were on the same wavelength. I responded with: "When great minds think alike, few minds think at all." and you should have seen the expression on his face.

It was priceless, but I got promoted anyway despite my dig. Youth, hubris and inexperience sometimes wins out but not often.
 

dlgoff

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... things that I was able to come up with, upon further study, were actually implemented previously by other science people.
And it can happen over and over has been my experience. What keeps me going, and probably for most, is the pure love of the Sciences.
 

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