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LETTER TO EDITOR Table of Contents   
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 35  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 199-200

Duplicate publications: Time to ring alarm bells

Department of Community Medicine, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, Punjab, India

Date of Submission15-Sep-2008
Date of Acceptance30-Oct-2009
Date of Web Publication19-Apr-2010

Correspondence Address:
Anurag Chaudhary
Department of Community Medicine, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, Punjab
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-0218.62558

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How to cite this article:
Chaudhary A, Sharma S, Girdhar S, Satija M. Duplicate publications: Time to ring alarm bells. Indian J Community Med 2010;35:199-200

How to cite this URL:
Chaudhary A, Sharma S, Girdhar S, Satija M. Duplicate publications: Time to ring alarm bells. Indian J Community Med [serial online] 2010 [cited 2021 Sep 19];35:199-200. Available from: https://www.ijcm.org.in/text.asp?2010/35/1/199/62558


A redundant or duplicate publication is a publication of a scientific paper that overlaps substantially with one already published. [1]

As per "Guidelines on Good Publication Practice," [2] the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) defined that a redundant publication occurs when two or more papers, without full cross references, share the same hypothesis, data, discussion points or conclusions.

According to Reeves et al., the defining characteristics of a duplicate publication is that in addition to the above, it shares at least some of the same authors. [3]

As an example, the article titled "Fertility profile and its correlates in a rural population of Dehradun district" was published as letter to editor in Indian Journal of Community Medicine (IJCM 2007; 32(2):152-3) and as original research article in Indian Journal of Preventive and Social Medicine (Ind J PSM 2007;38(3):142-49).

An act of Professional Misconduct-why?

The reader after reading the same article in two different journals may falsely substantiate the same observation and place greater reliance on evidence that appears to have been confirmed in more than one study. Moreover, it leads to wastage of valuable space in the journal as well as precious time of the editor. As a consequence, a deserving article might get rejected.

Also, the results of meta-analysis might get biased because of the same observation being repeated in two different journals. Tramer et al. concluded in their study that inclusion of duplicated data in meta-analysis led to a 23% overestimation of Ondansetron's antiemetic efficacy. [4]

However, some persons are of the view that as journals have different readership, this leads to wider accessibility of the scientific materials to the readers, [5] but in this era of electronic/internet revolution this point seems to be invalid.

Possible reason: The most important reason may be deliberate or intentional duplication of the research article in order to increase the number of publications that is unfortunately a basic requirement for career progression in medical profession. Similar apprehensions are also expressed by Dr. AJ Singh in his article titled Plagiarising Plagiarism. [6]

Recommended actions: In the light of above discussion, it is evident that the problem of duplicate publications is an issue that needs immediate attention on the part of both editors and readers. The actions to be taken in such cases range from retracting the article to issuing a ban on further publications of such authors.

According to COPE Guidelines, the editor has to investigate and label the misconduct as serious or less serious followed by decision on what action to be taken when such misconduct is noticed or reported. The Guidelines provide a list of Sanctions that may be applied separately or combined ranging from a letter of warning to as serious as reporting the case to the General Medical Council or other such authority for appropriate action.


  • Increasing awareness among authors and readers regarding this issue.
  • Before submitting an article for publication, the authors should consult the 'Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts submitted to Biomedical journals. [7]
  • Prompt reporting of such misconduct is the moral responsibility of the readers as well.
  • Most importantly, the editors have a pivotal role to play in prevention of duplicate publications.

   References Top

1.von Elm E, Poglia G, Walder B, Tramèr MR. Different Patterns of Duplicate Publication. An Analysis of Articles Used in Systematic Reviews. JAMA 2004;291:974-80.  Back to cited text no. 1      
2.Available from: www.publicationethics.org.uk/guidelines (last accessed on 2008 Sep 15).  Back to cited text no. 2      
3.Reeves DS, Wise R, Drummond CW. Duplicate Publication: A Cautionary Tale. J Antimicrob Chemother 2004;53:411-2.  Back to cited text no. 3      
4.Tramèr MR, Reynolds DJ, Moore RA, McQuay HJ. Impact of Covert Duplicate Publication on Meta-analysis: A case study. BMJ 1997;315:635-40.  Back to cited text no. 4      
5.Kaul SK. Duplicate Publications: A Wake Up Call. MJAFI 2007;63:310-1.  Back to cited text no. 5      
6.AJ Singh. Plagiarising Plagiarism. Indian J Community Med 2007;32:5-6.  Back to cited text no. 6      
7.Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Ann Intern Med 1997;126;36-47.  Back to cited text no. 7      


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