1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How to prove authorship of my idea/work?

  1. Dec 26, 2013 #1

    I have completed and sent in a theoretical framework for solving certain unsolved astrophysical problems to a prestigious astrophysical journal. To my surprise, as I do not have any traditional credentials as PhD or so forth, I was surprised that they were positive of sending it to peer review if I elaborated some parts of my work and added a more profound mathematical framework.

    I have now completed a new version with the requested mathematical framework and so forth. As I kept on I realized that if the theory is proved correct then it will have a very profound impact on astrophysics. It is therefore very important for me to be able to claim authorship of the idea.

    What method/s do you guys think is the best to be able to claim the idea to be mine in case of anyone else claiming to be the original author?

    I have thought of:
    A press-release even before the article is sent to peer review.
    Asking a professor/PhD to read the work then ask him to put a signature and a date on the paper.
    Make a copy of the work and send it to myself via registered mail

    Any input would be highly appreciated!
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 26, 2013 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Er... publishing it IS the prove of authorship of your idea!

    When your paper is published, the journal will have included the date your manuscript was first received, and the date the final version was accepted for publication. Then, when it is published, that's ample prove of your work.

  4. Dec 26, 2013 #3
    Thank you for your reply, however you appear to be wrong (Hence my post):

    From International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, Vol. 1, No. 3, September 2011:

    An Analysis of the Ethics of Peer Review and Other Traditional Academic Publishing Practices.


    "However, what has been overlooked, in this implementation, is that granting anonymity to reviewers, empowers them to strike at their competitors with impunity. An anonymous reviewer may steal ideas and results; may delay a paper, so as to allow the publication of their own, similar paper;"
  5. Dec 26, 2013 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I have never heard of such a complaint in a physics journal. I don't know what kind of ethics they work with with that journal, but I've never heard of such an incident in physics.

    The fact is that you can easily contact the journal in question IF you feel that your idea has been stolen by a referee. A journal typically keeps record of who refereed what, and can EASILY put two and two together, especially since the DATE of your manuscript is easily established.

    Please note that what you typed is a mere speculation. Unless you can actually cite cases where this happened, and happened rather often, then you are worrying about something that does not have a significant risk.

    BTW, how many papers have you published anyway?

  6. Dec 26, 2013 #5
    Thank you for elaborating... I haven't published any papers to date, but hopefully that will change in a short while. =)
  7. Dec 26, 2013 #6


    Staff: Mentor

  8. Dec 26, 2013 #7
  9. Dec 27, 2013 #8


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    We don't see ideas being stole very often. (I know of no cases personally). And here are several reasons I can think of for why:

    (1) In most cases referees are ethical people.

    (2) Referees are generally very busy with their own projects. They don't have time to steal ideas from others.

    (3) The consequences for someone caught stealing an idea would be dire - including the loss of one's job.

    (4) Journal submissions are time-stamped. The authors are issued a copy of this. It's very easy to prove who submitted what and when.

    (5) If a referee did steal your work, you have a very easy recourse. When you see your own work come out, you send a letter to the editor of the journal, and if the published work was in fact yours, it will be retracted and re-published with your name on it.

    (6) If your idea really is that earth-shattering. You will be able to write follow-up articles. Someone who steals it will have a much harder time doing this.
  10. Dec 27, 2013 #9
    Thanks for an excellent (and relieving) answer! I guess I got a little too suspicious after reading two articles about the disadvantages of the peer review process... :/
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook