Here’s a tricky situation that a reader of the blog has run into. To their dismay, a paper has just appeared in an open-access journal that seems to duplicate much of his group’s research. He says that they had a good deal of material available via presentations on their own web site, and worries that it may have been used as the basis of this new paper, which is written in broken English, with poorly described methods and characterization, and backed with unclear illustrations. Basically, it’s the sort of thing that he and his group have declined to publish for the last couple of years while they work to get things right.
So seeing this in print was not an enjoyable experience, and he’s wondering what the best course of action might be. The paper that’s appeared is bad enough that it might well be worthy of retraction, but on the face of it, it covers the work that they’re trying to publish themselves. Complain to the open access journal’s editors? Push ahead and publish their own work? (But if so, how do they deal with this one that’s now in the literature?)
My own thoughts are that if the paper that’s appeared is bad enough that it should be retracted, that it’s worth pursuing that, although there’s a low chance of success. At the same time, though, I think that work my correspondent is doing should go ahead to publication, with all due speed, and he may even want to deliberately compare it with the earlier paper (“This prompts us to report our own work in the area. . .in contrast to So-and-So et al.; we find that. . .”) Basically, try to say “OK, here’s the real paper on this stuff”. Any thoughts from people who’ve seen such situations?