Claiming the ownership of someone Else’s idea

Dan Zakay*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Sometimes a person may believe that he or she has come up with an original and innovative idea. In some cases, a literature search may show that someone else has already introduced the same idea or a very similar one. At this point, the temptation to claim ownership of the idea might be strong, and this can lead to the unethical decision to ignore or deny the existence of the original publication and to publish the idea without even referring to the original authors. In 1985, I published an article in which a version of a classic cognitive task was introduced. There are very few versions of this classical task, and the new version was quite innovative because it increased the potential domains in which the task could be employed. Recently, an editor of a well-known journal approached me about a paper that was submitted for publication in that journal. In the paper, a version of the classical cognitive task was presented that was almost identical to the version I had published earlier. However, the original paper was not even listed in the references. One of the reviewers was familiar with the original task and with my version of it, and he drew the journal editor’s attention to the fact that the original paper was not even mentioned. The editor then sent me the manuscript and asked me to comment on it.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEthical Challenges in the Behavioral and Brain Sciences
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages2
ISBN (Electronic)9781139626491
ISBN (Print)9781107039735
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


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