Today I found out that one of my publications, a peer-reviewed conference paper which is available free online, was published without my consent on a journal that I’ve never submitted to. What makes matters worse is that the journal is charging $48 for access for a paper that is freely available on the original conference website! The university that I’m affiliated with doesn’t have a subscription to this journal so I can’t check what the published piece looks like. I can’t check if my work has been edited in any way.
I’ve written to the original editor of the conference proceedings to clarify things, but it got me thinking about how confusing academic publications have increasingly become. It can be tough to sort out what’s happening to our content as previous papers are cross-published online. For junior scholars, it can be tricky to work out which journals have a reputable editorial board. So what can we do to protect our work?
Tips to protect our work
Here’s some general advice:
Use Google Scholar: This was how I realised that the journal had poached my content. It works by pulling web content. You can manually add references but can’t add links. You need to upload your papers to one of the services below for Google Scholar to be able to add a link to your work. Here’s some good tips on how to improve your Google Scholar profile.
Sign up with a copyright agency: Australia’s Copyright Agency offers a free service where they will help you fight copyright infringements. They have helped a friend of mine get royalties for books and teaching materials that republished my friend’s research without payment. Australians can get help here.
Join a Researcher Network: I belong to both ResearchGate and Academia.edu. I use the former very little, but most of my papers are up there. It is a free membership-based system to share papers and answer academic questions from other researchers.
Academia.edu is widely used, and I have my papers on there too (I joined that before ResearchGate). A few years a go there were concerns about their terms and conditions. I enjoy it as an alternative way to keep up with what researchers are publishing. Both services help your Google Scholar profile, and most importantly help you keep control of your public publishing profile.
Has something like this happened to you? Do you have other tips to help researchers protect their work?