It is mandatory for authors to agree with the publication ethics while submitting their research papers for peer review to a journal. The articles submitted for publication must be original and must not have been submitted to any other publication. However, it is often seen that the authors disregard this requirement and submit the same research paper (or with minor modifications) to two or more journals. Like plagiarism, the duplicate submission can be of different types: exact duplicate, partial duplicate (substantial), or duplicate with minor changes (article title, references, or authors).
Issues with Duplicate Submission
Duplicate submission is an unethical practice and violates the copyright norm. It leads to the wastage of editorial and review resources. The publication record of the author includes misleading information. The same research paper appearing in two journals raises questions about the reputation and peer review policy of the journals. Another similar practice involves splitting up a single study to publish multiple articles (salami-slicing), to increase the number of publications.
Avoiding Redundant Publication
For authors: If the two research papers are not the exact copy of each other and the author wishes to submit them to two different journals, then the author must:
- Disclose the details of each paper to both the journals
- Inform both the handling editors (managing editors) that a similar research paper is under review in another journal (use cover letter to inform).
- Explain the distinct difference between the two research papers and why two research papers were produced instead of one from the same topic
- Do not replicate content from other published paper
- Each paper must address separate research questions.
For journal’ reviewers:
- Always use text-matching or plagiarism tools for screening redundant publication
- Check the extent and nature of overlapping
- Major overlapping: identical or very similar findings and/or evidence that authors have sought to hide redundancy e.g. by changing the title or author order or not citing previous papers)
- Minor overlapping: overlapping in the methodology section or re-analysis of the data
- Inform the editor about the redundant publication
Dealing with Dual Submissions
While working on two different manuscripts that use the same dataset, or if the article is going to be published in different languages, always let the editors know about the plans.
Contact corresponding author in writing, ideally enclosing signed authorship statement (or cover letter) stating that submitted work has not been published elsewhere and documentary evidence of duplication.
Contact author in neutral terms/proceeds with review expressing concern/explaining journal’s position. Explain that secondary papers must refer to the original and request a missing reference to the original and/or remove overlapping material.
In conclusion, ultimately, there’s no need to send out the same manuscript to multiple journals at once. It’s against most publishers’ policies and will only cause delays or even retractions.