When is it acceptable to use some of the same data in separate papers?
Duplication — sometimes referred to “self-plagiarism,” with a lack of precision — is a frequent cause of retractions. Usually, it’s of text that authors have used elsewhere. But what about data? In our new LabTimes column, we describe a hypothetical situation:
A research group conducts a study of the effects of treatment Y on disease X in 18 patients and publishes their findings in the Journal of Medical Plausibility. A year later, they submit a second paper looking at treatment Y and disease X, this time in 27 patients – the initial set plus nine more. In both cases, the scientists report similar rates of efficacy and side effects.
Question: Have they committed publishing misconduct?
You can read more of our thoughts at the original column, including about a real-life case of this we’ve covered, and we look forward to those of Retraction Watch readers.