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“Inadvertent” duplicate publication


A paper submitted for consideration in March 1997 was peer reviewed, successfully modified, and accepted for publication in June 1997. In January 1998 the paper was prepared for publication, and a commentary sought from an expert in the same field, scheduled for publication in the same issue.


The author who wasn’t an author


A paper was submitted crediting three authors. The paper was sent to one of the journal’s regular statistical reviewers without noticing that she happened to be the second author.  She wrote back to say that she had not been involved in writing the manuscript, nor had she seen this paper before. She did say, however, that she had supervised the computer input of the questionnaire data and that she had provided some general advice on the simple statistical presentation of the data.


Redundant publication by an editorial board member


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.


Retrospective ethical approval?


A paper reported a questionnaire study of patients’ views on their preferences between minimal access and open access surgery. The questionnaires had been given to patients attending two types of clinic. The paper made no mention of ethical approval and the author was asked to clarify. He responded that he had not obtained ethical approval but that he had spoken to the chairman of the hospital ethics committee who would consider giving this retrospectively.


A falling out


A research letter was submitted from a team of investigators,A, B, C, and D. In their covering letter they reported that: A was involved in planning the study, collecting patient samples, and in writing the manuscript; B measured IL-10 polymorphisms and analysed the results; C was involved in supervising the measurement of polymorphisms and in writing the manuscript; D was involved in planning the study and writing the manuscript. The letter was peer reviewed and published.


Overseas editor dismissed from university for fraud


An international specialist medical journal has editors in the UK and abroad who function independently. An issue of a scientific journal in 1998 reported that the overseas editor had been dismissed from a university professorship because of scientific fraud. This had been documented in three published research papers.The report highlighted a particular paper, in which 27 references cited indicated the editor was the author or coauthor of 19 of the papers.


Redundant publication


A paper was submitted to journal A which was published as a rapid communication. It was subsequently discovered that the major US journal in this specialty had published other findings from the same set of patients, and that the paper had been considered by them at the same time. The messages of the two papers are closely related but different, but either one could have been amalgamated into the other for one publication.


Attempted dual publication


A study by Japanese authors was submitted to specialist journal A. The manuscript was sent to three reviewers, including expert X. After two weeks, expert X contacted the editorial office to say that an identical manuscript had been sent by the competing specialist journal B to expert Y in the same unit as expert X. Expert X and expert Y had compared and discussed both manuscripts.


Partial disclosure of redundancy?


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.