Anonymised text of the case:
Dr A submitted an article to journal X that was published in 1996. Dr B wrote to the editor in January 1997, pointing out an error by Dr A. Shortly afterwards, Dr B submitted a longer editorial to the journal discussing the issue raised by this error in a much wider context. Dr B then withdrew the article and submitted it to journal Y at the end of March, with a covering letter in which he wrote: “We are unaware of any other papers that have described this problem ….The paper is not under consideration elsewhere.” At the beginning of May, journal Y sent Dr B’s article for peer review. Meanwhile, the letter from Dr B to journal X was accepted at the beginning of June. A revised paper from Dr B was returned to journal Y on 10 June. The editor wanted Dr A to reply and asked Dr B if he had objections to this. Dr B faxed back the following reply on 1 July: “Please feel free to ask Dr A to respond if you wish. We had corresponded with him when we found the error. Note, however, that we wrote a letter to the editor of X about this error and expect that he and his colleagues will respond to that.” The editor of journal Y decided not to pursue a reply from Dr A on the grounds that Dr A would eventually have a reply in journal X. On 15 July, the letter from Dr B was published in journal X, together with a strong rebuttal from Dr A. On 8 November, Dr B’s article was published in journal Y. No mention of either his letter or Dr A’s response in journal X was made, and the editor of journal Y had seen neither piece of correspondence. The editor of journal X complained to his colleagues at journal Y that this episode represented dual publication, for which he plans to publish a notice to this effect. (1) Is he right to do so? (2) What more should he do? (3) What should be the response of the editor of journal Y?