“Inadvertent” duplicate publication

Case number:

Case text (Anonymised)

A paper submitted for consideration in March 1997 was peer reviewed, successfully modified, and accepted for publication in June 1997. In January 1998 the paper was prepared for publication, and a commentary sought from an expert in the same field, scheduled for publication in the same issue. The expert drew the editor’s attention to the fact that a similar paper (albeit in shortened form) had been published in another journal in November 1997, after the paper to this journal had been accepted. The editor of the second journal who had no knowledge of the paper being submitted to to this journal. The papers were examined and the following conclusions drawn: 1 The sample size,methods,and results were identical for both papers. 2 The discussions were similar, lthough reworded slightly. 3 Additional data had been added to the paper for one journal which had been omitted for the short report in the other journal.


Could this be ignorance of process rather than bad behaviour? Both journals should make their position clear with regard to duplicate publication Both journals should look at their own processes for dealing with it.

Follow up: 

The authors were asked to explain, especially as both papers had been submitted without either editor being advised of the other submission, and without a reference to the other journal in either paper. The authors claimed that the paper to this journal was a full report for the readers (one health profession) while the short report was to inform the readers of the other journal who comprised a different health profession. This explanation was regarded as insuf?cient grounds for the lack of information and the paper was not published. Interestingly, had the authors kept both editors informed and credited and referenced the original paper in the second, then it is unlikely that a possible case of duplicate publication would have been considered and both would probably have been published.