How Duplicate Publication can impact you
and how to avoid it
A duplicate publication (also known as redundant publication or dual publication) is the publication of the same paper in more than one journal. It may also refer to the publication of a paper that overlaps substantially with one already published, without reference to the original publication.
Duplicate publication vs. duplicate submission
Both duplicate submission and duplicate publication are considered overlapping publications. When authors submit the same work (say, in different languages) to more than one journal simultaneously, it is a duplicate submission. This may or may not lead to a duplicate publication – which is said to take place when the same work is published more than once, or when a recent published paper overlaps to a great extent with an already published one without proper reference to the previous publication.
A related term is salami slicing. Learn more about it here.
The problems with duplicate publication
Duplicate publication is considered unethical, particularly when done with the intention to increase the number of publications. This is due to the following reasons:
- The increased number of papers does not reflect additional work or new findings.
- Redundant papers distort the literature because of double-counting of data.
- Readers may get confused and be misled about the originality of the work.
- In most cases, it is a copyright violation.
- It is a waste of time and effort for peer reviewers and journal editors.
As it is nearly impossible for an editor or reader to know if a researcher committed a duplicate publication unknowingly or deliberately, it is better to avoid this practice.
How duplicate publication can impact authors
- If a paper is found to have been published elsewhere earlier, one or both papers may end up getting retracted.
- Worse still, the journal editor who detects this breach may ban the author from submitting papers to their journal for a specific period.
- The editor may also notify the other journals about the author(s), thereby blacklisting them from several journals.
If interested in knowing more about how journals identify and respond to allegations of scientific misconduct of authors, read this article.
How to avoid duplicate publication
a. Disclose and declare
Declare similar publications in your cover letter, along with a copy of the related material. These may include:
- Publication of work that is either conceptually based on, or a verbatim extract from, your published dissertation
- Publication of work that formed part of conference proceedings
- Submitting studies based on the same or overlapping datasets or findings to multiple journals
- The same research in different languages
Tip: Are you unsure if the level of overlap may raise doubts? Send a copy of the material anyway, just to be safe. Let the editor make an informed decision.
b. Avoid self-plagiarism
c. Avoid publication in predatory journals
Withdrawal of papers accidentally submitted to predatory journals is challenging. Safeguard yourself from such journals to avoid dual publications, retractions or even loss of your publication.
Some exceptions around duplicate publication
In special cases, republishing is permitted.
- Sometimes, landmark papers may be republished or included in an edited volume.
- A translated version of a published article may be allowed as an acceptable secondary publication for dissemination of critical work to a wider audience.
Note: Even for these exceptions, however, transparency, disclosure, copyright permissions and appropriate attributions remain essential.
There is no way to conclusively know if an author generated redundant publications intentionally to increase their publications or did so without knowing that it is unethical. Either way, duplicate submissions and duplicate publications harm your reputation and career.
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