Prior Publication and Redundancy in Contemporary Science: Are Authors and Editors at the Crossroads?

Science and Engineering Ethics 21 (5):1367-1378 (2015)
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We discuss prior publication and redundancy in contemporary science in the context of changing perceptions of originality in the communication of research results. These perceptions have been changing in the publication realm, particularly in the last 15 years. Presenting a brief overview of the literature, we address some of the conflicts that are likely to arise between authors and editors. We illustrate our approach with conference presentations that are later published as journal articles and focus on a recent retraction of an article that had been previously published as a conference proceedings. Although we do not make definitive pronouncements on the matter—as many concepts are evolving—we do argue that conference papers that contain sufficient details for others to attempt a replication and are indexed in scientific databases such as PubMed, challenge some currently held assumptions of prior publication and originality in the sciences. Our view is that these important issues are in need of further clarification and harmonization within the science publishing community. This need is more evident when we consider current notions of research integrity when it comes to communication to peers. Revisiting long-standing views about what constitutes prior publication and developing a clearer set of guidelines for authors and editors to follow should reduce conflicts in the research environment, which already exerts considerable pressure, especially on newcomers in academia. However, while clearer guidelines are timely, developing them is only part of the challenge. The present times seem to call for deeper changes in the research and publication systems



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