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Overlapping Publications

OA Text follows the guidelines of theInternational Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE)for Overlapping Publications:

1. Duplicate Submission

Most biomedical journals will not consider manuscripts that are simultaneously being considered by other journals.The rationale for this policy are: a) the potential for disagreement when two (or more) journals claim the right to publish a manuscript that has been submitted simultaneously to more than one journal, and b) the possibility that two or more journals will unknowingly and unnecessarily undertake the work of peer review, edit the same manuscript, and publish the same article.

However, editors of different journals may decide to simultaneously or jointly publish an article if they believe that doing so would be in the best interest of public health.

2. Duplicate Publication

Duplicate publication is publication of a paper that overlaps substantially with one already published, without clear, visible reference to the previous publication.

Readers of primary source periodicalsdeserve to be able to trust that what they are reading is original unless there is a clear statement that the author and editor are intentionally republishing an article (which might be considered for historic or landmark papers, for example). The bases of this position are international copyright laws, ethical conduct, and cost-effective use of resources. Duplicate publication of original research is particularly problematic because it can result in inadvertent double-counting of data or inappropriate weighting of the results of a single study, which distorts the available evidence.

When authors submit a manuscript reporting work that has already been reported in large part in a published article or is contained in or closely related to another paper that has been submitted or accepted for publication elsewhere, the author must always make a complete statement to the editor about all submissions and previous reports (including meeting presentations and posting of results in registries) that might be regarded as redundant or duplicate publication. This statement letter will help the editor decide how to handle the submission.

This recommendation does not preclude a journal from considering a complete report that has been rejected by another journal, or a report that follows publication of a preliminary report, such as a letter to the editor or an abstract or poster displayed at a professional meeting. It also does not prevent journals from considering a paper that has been presented at a scientific meeting but was not published in full, or that is being considered for publication in proceedings or similar format. Press reports of scheduled meetings are not usually regarded as breaches of this rule, but they may be if additional data tables or figures enrich such reports.

Sharing with public media, government agencies, or manufacturers the scientific information described in a paper or a letter to the editor that has been accepted but not yet published violates the policies of many journals. Such reporting may be warranted when the paper or letter describes major therapeutic advances; reportable diseases; or public health hazards, such as serious adverse effects of drugs, vaccines, other biological products, medical devices. This reporting, whether in print or online, should not jeopardize publication, but should be discussed with and agreed upon by the editor in advance when possible.

The ICMJE does not consider results posted in clinical trial registries as previous publication if the results are presented in the same, ICMJE-accepted registry in which initial registration of trial methods occurred and if the results are posted in the form of brief structured abstracts or tables. The ICMJE encourages authors to include a statement with the registration that indicates that the results have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, and to update the results registry with the full journal citation when the results are published.

Editors of different journals may together decide to simultaneously or jointly publish an article if they believe that doing so would be in the best interest of public health. However, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) indexes all such simultaneously published joint publications separately, so editors should include a statement making the simultaneous publication clear to readers.

Authors who attempt duplicate publication without such notification should expect at least prompt rejection of the submitted manuscript. If the editor was not aware of the violations and the article has already been published, then the article might warrant retraction with or without the author’s explanation or approval.

SeeCOPEflowcharts for further guidance on handling duplicate publication.

3. Acceptable Secondary Publication

The Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has stated the conditions for which secondary publication of materials published in other journals or online may be acceptable and beneficial, especially when intended to disseminate important information to the widest possible audience (e.g., guidelines produced by government agencies and professional organizations in the same or a different language). The conditions are:

  • 1. The authors have received approval from the editors of both journals (the editor concerned with secondary publication must have access to the primary version).
  • 2. The priority of the primary publication is respected by a publication interval negotiated by both editors with the authors.
  • 3. The paper for secondary publication is intended for a different group of readers; an abbreviated version could be sufficient.
  • 4. The secondary version faithfully reflects the data and interpretations of the primary version.
  • 5. The secondary version informs readers, peers, and documenting agencies that the paper has been published in whole or in part elsewhere—for example, with a note that might read, "This article is based on a study first reported in the [journal title, with full reference]"—and the secondary version cites the primary reference.
  • 6. The title of the secondary publication should indicate that it is a secondary publication (complete or abridged republication or translation) of a primary publication. Of note, the NLM does not consider translations to be "republications" and does not cite or index them when the original article was published in a journal that is indexed in MEDLINE.

When the same journal simultaneously publishes an article in multiple languages, the MEDLINE citation will note the multiple languages (for example, Angelo M. Journal networking in nursing: a challenge to be shared. Rev Esc Enferm USP. 2011 Dec 45[6]:1281-2,1279-80,1283-4. Article in English, Portuguese, and Spanish. No abstract available. PMID 22241182).

4 Competing Manuscripts Based on the Same Study

Publication of manuscripts to air the disputes of co-investigators may waste journal space and confuse readers. On the other hand, if editors knowingly publish a manuscript written by only some of a collaborating team, they could be denying the rest of the team their legitimate co-authorship rights and journal readers access to legitimate differences of opinion about the interpretation of a study.

Two kinds of competing submissions are considered: submissions by coworkers who disagree on the analysis and interpretation of their study, and submissions by coworkers who disagree on what the facts are and which data should be reported.

Setting aside the unresolved question of ownership of the data, the following general observations may help editors and others address such problems.

5 Differences in Analysis or Interpretation

If the dispute centers on the analysis or interpretation of data, the authors should submit a manuscript that clearly presents both versions. The difference of opinion should be explained in a cover letter. The normal process of peer and editorial review may help the authors to resolve their disagreement regarding analysis or interpretation.

If the dispute cannot be resolved and the study merits publication, both versions should be published. Options include publishing two papers on the same study, or a single paper with two analyses or interpretations. In such cases, it would be appropriate for the editor to publish a statement outlining the disagreement and the journal’s involvement in attempts to resolve it.

6 Differences in Reported Methods or Results

If the dispute centers on differing opinions of what was actually done or observed during the study, the journal editor should refuse publication until the disagreement is resolved. Peer review cannot be expected to resolve such problems. If there are allegations of dishonesty or fraud, editors should inform the appropriate authorities; authors should be notified of an editor’s intention to report a suspicion of research misconduct.

7 Competing Manuscripts Based on the Same Database

Editors sometimes receive manuscripts from separate research groups that have analyzed the same data set (for example, from a public database). The manuscripts may differ in their analytic methods, conclusions, or both. Each manuscript should be considered separately. If interpretation of the data is very similar, it is reasonable but not mandatory for editors to give preference to the manuscript that was received first. However, editorial consideration of multiple submissions may be justified under these circumstances, and there may even be a good reason to publish more than one manuscript because different analytical approaches may be complementary and equally valid.

8. Obligation to Register Clinical Trials

The ICMJE believes that it is important to foster a comprehensive, publicly available database of clinical trials. The ICMJE defines a clinical trial as any research project that prospectively assigns human subjects to intervention or concurrent comparison or control groups to study the cause-and-effect relationship between a medical intervention and a health outcome. Medical interventions include drugs, surgical procedures, devices, behavioral treatments, process-of-care changes, and the like.

The ICMJE member journals will require, as a condition of consideration for publication in their journals, registration in a public trials registry. The details of this policy are contained in a series of editorials (see Editorials, under Frequently Asked Questions). The ICMJE encourages editors of other biomedical journals to adopt similar policy.

The ICMJE does not advocate one particular registry, but its member journals will require authors to register their trial in a registry that meets several criteria. The registry must be accessible to the public at no charge. It must be open to all prospective registrants and managed by a not-for-profit organization. There must be a mechanism to ensure the validity of the registration data, and the registry should be electronically searchable. Trial registration with missing fields or fields that contain uninformative terminology is inadequate.

It is important to note that the ICMJE requires registration of trial methodology but does not require registration of trial results; it recognizes the potential problems that could arise from the posting of research results that have not been subjected to an independent peer-review process.However, the ICMJE understands that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (FDAAA) does require researchers to register results. The ICMJE will not consider results to be previous publication if they are posted in the same primary clinical trial registry as the initial registration and if the results are posted in the tabular form dictated by the FDAAA. Researchers should be aware that editors of journals that follow the ICMJE recommendations may consider more detailed description of trial results and results published in registries other than the primary registry (in the case of FDAAA, to be prior publication. The ICMJE anticipates that the climate for results registration will change dramatically over coming years and the ICMJE may need to amend these recommendations as additional agencies institute other mandates related to results registration.

The ICMJE recommends that journals publish the trial registration number at the end of the abstract. The ICMJE also recommends that, whenever a registration number is available, authors list this number the first time they use a trial acronym to refer to either the trial they are reporting or to other trials that they mention in the manuscript.