DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a college student, and I have recently been doing extended research for a news article for my job. This will be the first major news article I’ve ever published. However, I just found out that someone else published an article that is almost exactly like the story I was trying to write, even interviewing many of the people I have been in the process of talking to. I have been doing months of prep work and background research, and I don’t want to abandon the work I’ve done, but I know that the article I publish will be less significant now that someone else in the field has published. This project has meant a lot to me, and I want the work I do to be significant. What should I do? -- Outpaced
DEAR OUTPACED: Schedule an appointment with your editor immediately and reveal what you have learned. Go over the extensive research you have conducted, and then share the article that you discovered. Point out the obvious: Someone else published an article that is frighteningly similar to what you have been researching, and you are not sure what to do. Ask for guidance.
From my perspective, I recommend that you push reset and consider a fresh angle to approach the subject matter. As disappointing as this may seem, what could be worse is to be accused of plagiarism when what actually happened is simply that the other writer finished the work first.