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Duplicate (Dual) Publications

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A sizable portion of scientific and scholarly research is carried out by individuals working in academic or research institutions where advancement structures continue to rely on the presentation and subsequent publication of research in peer-reviewed journals. Because the number and the quality of publications continue to be the most important criteria for gaining tenure and/or promotion, the more publications authored by a researcher, the better his/her chances of earning a promotion or tenure. As can be expected, and in the context of decreasing or, at best, stagnant funding for research, the current reward system produces a tremendous amount of pressure for scientists to generate as many publications as possible. Unfortunately, some of the most serious negative consequences of the present system, aside from fabrication, falsification and outright plagiarism, are the problems of duplicate publication and of other forms of redundancy. In the sciences, duplicate publication generally refers to the practice of submitting a paper with identical or near identical content to more than one journal, without alerting the editors or readers to the existence of its earlier published version. The new publication may be exactly the same (e.g., identical title, content, and author list) or differ only slightly from the original by, for example, changes to the title (see, for example, Attoui, Kherici, and Kherici-Bousnoubra, 2014), abstract, and/or order of the authors. Papers representing instances of duplicate publication almost always contain identical or nearly identical text and/or data relative to the earlier published version. More problematic instances of duplicate publication occur when various components of a paper change (e.g., title, authorship), but the underlying data remain the same, making duplication more difficult to uncover.

Duplicate publication in the academic context: ‘Double-dipping’. Duplicate publication has a direct counterpart in the area of academic dishonesty. In the US it is commonly referred to as ‘double dipping’. It occurs when a student submits a whole paper, or a substantial portion of a paper that had been previously submitted and graded in another course to fulfill a requirement of a new course. Many college undergraduates and even some instructors are not aware that this type of practice is a serious academic offense (Hallupa & Bolliger, 2013). Of course, as is the case with duplicate publication, submitting the same paper or a large portion of a paper, to two different courses is entirely acceptable if the student sought permission from the instructors of both courses and they both agreed to the arrangement. However, some institutions may have specific policies prohibiting this practice under most circumstances.

Instances in which dual publication may be acceptable. Some authors who submit the same article to more than one journal rationalize their behavior by explaining that each journal has its own independent readership and that their duplicate paper would be of interest to each set of readers who would probably not otherwise be aware of the other publication. Indeed, there may be circumstances that justify the dual publication of a paper. For example, duplicate publication may be acceptable when an article published in one language is translated into a different language and published in a different journal. However, and consistent with existing guidelines, in all cases where the same paper is published in different journals, whether it is a translated version or the same identical paper, editors of both journals would have to agree to this arrangement and the new version must clearly indicate that it is a duplicate of an existing version. In addition other important conditions must be met and the interested reader should consult sources, such as ICMJE (2014) or Iverson et al. (2007). Similarly, any documentation in which authors list their publications as evidence of their research productivity (e.g., personal vita, ResearchGate), authors would be expected to identify both papers as being identical.