I got academic fans: a case of plagiarism

A few days ago I stumbled upon a paper named "Anabolic-androgenic steroids. Mechanism of action and clinical effects" as it popped up in one of the billion alerts I have for anything with androgens. While reading it I quickly noticed how eerily similar a section in their paper was to the Frontiers paper we published in December 2022. And, indeed, I compared the papers side-by-side and their section named "Mechanism of Action" was a (poor) condensed rewrite of our section "From administration to action".

So I wrote to the editor of the journal it was published in, namely Journal of Education, Health and Sport — some local journal I had never heard of before in my life.

In my email I listed a few mistakes the authors had made in their publication, as well as highlighting the similarities between their paper and ours. Importantly, literally every bit of information from the section "Mechanism of Action" was present in our paper, and not only that, the information was presented in the exact same order of appearance.

Daria Matyja et al. plagiarism
On the left their paper, on the right our paper. Notice how literally every piece of information is also present in our paper and, importantly, is presented in the exact same order of appearance.

Normally, a paper would get retracted for this. Anyhow, the editor took the paper offline and forwarded my report of plagiarism to the authors, and they responded quite quickly. While they did admit having used information from our review paper (they cited us in their paper so there was no denying that), they disagreed that it was plagiarism and instead pleaded that the contents originated from other sources. They attached a few screenshots of various papers that contained bits and pieces of the information they presented, but not all of it, nor did they give an explanation of why on earth the section was so eerily similar (oh I know why, they didn't want to admit plagiarism). They even went as far as to write that they understood my concerns of my work being cited. Err, the "concern" was that you plagiarized my work. Anyhow, they said they would rewrite the section accordingly. Nice as I am, I said I would be fine with that.

So what happened next? They indeed rewrote the section, making it look like nothing like it was, removed us completely from the citations, and got the paper republished again. I did not receive any word from this. So apparently that's how things roll with plagiarism: you get caught, you rewrite (poorly) what you got caught on, remove the paper you plagiarized from the citations, and get it republished in the same journal, with the same DOI.

Anyhow, if you do plagiarize something, you do it because it's so damn good, right? Right! So Daria Matyja, Leila Abod, Natalia Ilnicka, Maria Sadlik and Patrycja Zuziak — the authors of the paper — plagarized my paper because they're my fans. And that's actually something to be happy about.