The journal commissioned a Seminar that arrived in September 2004 and was sent for peer review. In March 2005, we received a peer reviewer’s comments pointing out a very similar paper by the same authors in another journal, published in December 2004.
On careful comparison, there was over 70% text copied word-for-word, sometimes with trivial alterations, from the previous publication.
When challenged the authors replied in great detail arguing about the exact extent of duplication but also saying this was an ‘honest mistake’ of not disclosing the other paper to us as it was not yet accepted. They still argue for the value of their paper.
We have rejected the paper pointing out that duplicate submission is unacceptable.
Should we do more?
The authors should have self disclosed. The authors tried to defend themselves by arguing that a certain percentage of duplication was acceptable in a review article. It was thought this issue should be taken further. The committee thought that the authors were being dishonest and had tried to fool the editor into duplicate publication and also fool the readers.
The advice was to ake this further–write to the author’s institution pointing out that this sort of behaviour is not in the institution’s interests.
We contacted the author’s institution. The head of institution actually wrote back agreeing that this behaviour is completely unacceptable and that he will ensure that this is understood by all in his institution.