LETTER TO THE EDITOR
| [Download PDF]
|Year : 2014 | Volume
| Issue : 6 | Page : 663--664
Redundant publication: Expect the unexpected
S Kannan1, S Gowri2,
1 Department of Pharmacology, Subharti Medical College and Prosthodontics, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Subharti Dental college, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, India
Department of Pharmacology, Subharti Medical College and Prosthodontics, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh
|How to cite this article:|
Kannan S, Gowri S. Redundant publication: Expect the unexpected
.Indian J Pharmacol 2014;46:663-664
|How to cite this URL:|
Kannan S, Gowri S. Redundant publication: Expect the unexpected
. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2014 [cited 2020 Jan 23 ];46:663-664
Available from: http://www.ijp-online.com/text.asp?2014/46/6/663/144950
An incidence of <1% to 13.6% redundant publication has been reported in various biomedical fields. ,,,,, Considering the lack of black and white source on duplicate publications in any of the pharmacology journals, we conducted a study to assess the same in Indian Journal of Pharmacology (IJP). All original research articles published in the IJP (www.ijp-online.com) between January and December 2012 were downloaded and assessed for redundant publication as per Schein and Paladugu criteria.  PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed), Google (www.google.co.in), and eTBLAST (http://etest.vbi.vt.edu/etblast3/) were used to assess the presence of similar publications. PubMed and Google were used to search articles using surnames of all the authors and keywords provided by them for their article, without limitations. eTBLAST is a text-similarity search engine in which title of the article and abstract was used for the search. MEDLINE database was used for the same. A similarity score of >0.567 was considered significant, and the articles that met this criterion were evaluated for duplication.  Duplication was suspected when the article was found to address the same topic as the index article or shared similar methodology results and conclusion. Full-text was obtained for each of the suspected articles and was independently reviewed by the authors. Agreement between the authors was evaluated with kappa statistics. Proportion of each of the categories of duplicate publication is represented in percentage.
A total of 83 published articles was downloaded from the website. Search by eTBLAST revealed four articles with the similarity score of >0.56, four other articles from Google search while none from PubMed. The articles from eTBLAST were evaluated for duplication by each of the authors, and none of them were found to be redundant. Of the four articles from Google search, two were duplicate, one each was found to be potentially duplicate and salami-slicing publication. Of the 83 articles, the incidence of duplicate publication in the present study was four (4.8%). There was a complete agreement (kappa = 1) between the authors on all these four articles for the presence of redundancy. All the four articles that were suspected through Google search were confirmed to be of duplicate but none of the four from eTBLAST.
Scientific misconduct in publication includes redundant (duplicate and salami-slicing), plagiarized, containing falsified data and authorship improprieties. Fang et al. did a detailed review on over 2000 retracted articles indexed by PubMed which revealed that only 21.3% of retractions were attributable to error, while the rest (67.4%) of retractions were attributable to misconduct, including fraud or suspected fraud (43.4%), duplicate publication (14.2%), and plagiarism (9.8%).  In the same study, it has also been identified that China and India contributed more to number of duplicate publications and plagiarized articles than others. Hence, we evaluated the presence of redundant publications that includes duplicate and salami-slicing publications in an Indian journal. Duplicate publication is not new or rare in biomedical fields. Redundant publication is a form of "Authors misconduct." Authors indulge in duplicate publication just to increase the magnitude of their scientific publications. Due to a prolonged editorial/peer-reviewing process in many of the journals, authors may consider submitting their work to more than one journal at a time despite journal's clear mention in their "instructions to authors" that they should not do so. Duplicate publications/simultaneous submissions are considered unethical, because there is defiance in publishing other author's work, copyright violation, wastage of editorial and peer-reviewing process and may distort the evidence especially in meta-analysis, the highest level of evidence.
A nation-wide campaign by the Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors was conducted in 2006 to sensitize biomedical researchers against such scientific misconduct. Following this, a steady decline in the rate of duplicate publications was observed from an average of 5.9% (2004) to 1.2% (2009) in Korea.  In India, such programs are the need of the hour, considering many of the current retractions in Indian biomedical literature due to scientific misconduct. It is the responsibility of the editor of the journal as well as the peer-reviewers to ensure that each of the published articles meets the highest standards of scientific integrity. A recent spoof paper by John Bohannon  and our previous study  on the peer reviewing process showed only 2/10 Indian journal editors followed the reviewing codes precisely. There are various software like CrossCheck, IThenticate, eTBLAST, dejavu to detect duplicate publications or plagiarism. Many require subscription, but eTBLAST and dejavu are available for free. Editors/peer-reviewers can utilize these tools to identify the presence of any considerable overlapping information in the manuscripts. We used eTBLAST in the present study, but the search is limited to the following databases: MEDLINE, CRISP, NASA, Medical cases, PubMed central, clinical trials, Arxiv, Wikipedia, and VT courses. Of the four redundant publications in the present study, one was duplicated into non-English language, and the other three were published in journals that were not indexed with MEDLINE. Hence, they were not revealed with either eTBLAST or PubMed search. Since Google indexes billions of web pages, there is an additional potential of identifying similar publications in journals that are not indexed with PubMed/MEDLINE, the largest database of biomedical literature. Hence, we recommend editors/peer-reviewers to use a combination of such specific tools besides Google search to identify scientific misconduct. A careful manual analysis of suspected articles is necessary because none of these tools are 100% specific. In fact, at the time of peer-review process, the journals may follow a standardized set of comments one of which shall include whether they have checked for the presence of a similar publication using any of the available tools. Having found to indulge in such misconducts, the author's institution should also be notified regarding the same. We also suggest International Committee of Medical Journal Editors to create a common database containing the details of authors who had attempted this form of scientific misconduct and their publication shall not be accepted by any of the journals in the future. Once an article is found to have considerable overlap with any other published article, editors should retract the article. A notice of retraction should be issued both as a hard copy and electronic version.
In conclusion, we found a 4.8% incidence of redundant publications in a pharmacology journal similar to previous reports from various other fields of biomedical literature. Authors have to be made more aware of such misconduct, and the journals have to strengthen their reviewing process to eliminate the same.
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