Publication ethics

I’m in a moral quandary.

I just got sent a manuscript to review for a journal, and it contains a lot of work that I did for a company during a collaborative research project.

One person who worked for the company I did the work for (Company A) moved to another company (Company B), but had access to all the work I did. Apparently they’ve given it to Company B, who subsequently brought in another academic to do some work with them. This other academic has obviously been given all the work I did, then seen fit to write up the material and publish it – without any attribution to me. I don’t think the other academic actually knows that Company B didn’t do the work and that it was done by someone else at Company A, and that for all intents and purposes, it was stolen when one of Company A’s employees left. I haven’t strictly published it – it’s sitting in a confidential report I wrote for Company A. So I don’t think I can really claim plagiarism. They’ve stolen all the data files, data analysis and interpretations I did, not the actual report itself.

Do I mail the editor to explain what’s happened? The manuscript isn’t bad, but I’m the one who did 90% of the actual work, and I’m not listed as a co-author, and I got no mention in the acknowledgements.

I obviously have to tell Company A what’s happened, but I don’t want this other academic to get in serious trouble, because based on the fact I know them pretty well in real life, I suspect they have absolutely no idea what’s gone on.

Why are people such assholes?

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