A reviewer detected that a paper received for review was almost identical to a paper published by the same group three years earlier in a journal of a different specialty. The paper concerned clinical and investigative aspects of a disease that crossed two specialties. Although the authors had included their previous paper in the reference list, the title of the paper had been changed from that in the other journal. References to this in the introduction and discussion were brief in the extreme and did not indicate in any way that the authors were re-studying, or re-reporting the same patients or data set.
The paper was openly deceitful in the reference list, but the work was not discussed and the title in the reference list had been changed. The editor was advised to seek clarification from the authors, and to refer the matter to the head of the author’s institution.
Further clarification was eventually forthcoming. The corresponding author accepted that there had been an error in the title of the paper in the list of references, but strongly refuted the suggestion that there was redundancy. The editor requested an independent review of the two papers by an expert reviewer who confirmed that there was major redundancy. A response from the authors was awaited. The authors still maintained that the paper contained new information and an impasse was reached. The paper was rejected and no further action was taken.