Seven authors sent us a paper on hospital infections in children. We sent the paper to two reviewers, one of whom sent back a detailed comparison between the paper submitted to us and a paper published in another journal in 1996. The reviewer’s comments were:
“Unfortunately, there is strong evidence that the study and its results have been published previously, comments with some further detail only provided here.” The authors did reference their previous paper in their introduction to their present paper, but did not make clear that there was substantial overlap with the previously published paper and did not send us a copy.
I have asked the authors for their comments. Assuming that the two papers do turn out to be substantially the same, should we contemplate some punishment?