A specialist journal received a paper for review. An editorial board member was one of the authors. The paper was sent out for review and one reviewer replied quite favourably. A few days later the reviewer sent the editor a copy of a paper seen in another journal that was very similar to the one under consideration, and by the same authors. It was the same population and the same study, just a slightly different aspect of the paper. No mention of this study had been made in the paper submitted to the specialist journal. The editor wrote to the board member, who replied saying that there are some important differences between the papers,and that the one submitted to the journal is intended to be the main paper that will be cited, with further reports published in due course. The board member acknowledged that the previous paper should have been cited. What should happen about the specific paper? There clearly was a lack of transparency and it is hard to believe the board member was really so naive as to overlook the need to mention the previous publication. And what should be done about the board member?
Both the editor and the co-editor have been through the paper; there is a lot of duplication. The editors should write back to the authors and the head of institution saying that they are treating this as a case of redundant/salami publication. The board member has a further two years to serve, but he should be treated as the other authors, and the institution head informed. He should also be sacked from the editorial board
The editor received a long and informative letter from the board member. There were two papers being prepared by two groups who had been working on the population in question, he explained. One (the one they sent to this journal) was rejected by the first journal they sent it to and another was accepted rather quickly by a different journal. The editor thinks that the duplication between the submissions arose because of the different groups concerned. The board member and his team did a lot of hard thinking and have made arrangements to ensure that this sort of thing cannot happen again. The editor is convinced that this was a case of poor control and communication between teams rather than a deliberate attempt to deceive. The board member offered his resignation, but the editor invited him to stay which was accepted with gratitude. In fact, the editor suggested that he should collaborate on a piece for the journal about publication misconduct and what editors are doing about it.