A study purported to have been stimulated by a systematic review that had already been published in the journal. The new study included 15 patients who had been treated in one arm of a study and 15 who had been treated in another arm. The peer reviewers noticed that the original systematic review included 31 patients from the same authors. The editor contacted the authors asking them to make clear whether this was a new study or a presentation of existing data. Despite asking twice, the authors never gave a clear answer. The head of the institution was therefore informed and asked to provide one instead, and to consider whether this was an example of research misconduct. Has the editor done the right thing?
_ The authors should make it clear if it was a duplicate article, and thus far had failed to do so. _ Can a meta-analysis be published before the data have been reviewed. _ Why should only part of these data be published, particularly when they have already been published in a systematic review?
The editors are still awaiting a reply from the head of the institution. The institution conducted the inquiry: “I can only conclude that the authors have dealt according to the standards of scientific integrity, although it should have been stated that there has been some overlap with a previously published study, and that the communication between your office and the authors have been inadequate. ”