I received a letter from a reader in November 1997, pointing out that a paper published in the BMJ in 1996 was substantially the same as a paper published in another journal in 1994. We have examined both papers and discovered: (1) The papers describe the same cohort. There are the same numbers of patients, recruited in the same year; they have the same range of starting and finishing blood pressures. They are give the same drugs in the same hospital and had the same length of follow-up. The same outcomes are presented in both papers. (2) There is no lifting of text verbatim. (3) No substantially different or new material is presented in either paper in comparison with the other. A little more information on deaths and dropouts appeared in the BMJ paper in response to questions by the statistical reviewer. (3) Neither paper was referenced to the other, and the authors did not inform us of the existence of the paper in the other journal. (4) All authors signed the copyright form (5) The BMJ paper includes two authors who were not included in the other paper. This seems a very straightforward case of redundant publication. We have asked the authors for an explanation, and our expectation is that we will need to publish a notice of redundant publication. I have also written to the editor of the other journal.
The authors pleaded ignorance when challenged by the editor. This is no defence: the editor to publish a notice of redundant publication.