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Can Special Circumstances Justify Republication? A Difference of Opinions

Bordage, Georges MD, PhD; Elstein, Arthur PhD

Letters to the Editor

Dr. Bordage and Dr. Elstein are both professors in the Department of Medical Education, the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois.

We were surprised and dismayed to see Chuck Friedman's paper, “The Marvelous Medical Education Machine or How Medical Education Can Be Unstuck in Time,” published in extenso first in Medical Teacher 1 and then in the October 2000 supplement of Academic Medicine.2 Further, the footnote in the Academic Medicine version indicates that this dual publication was done with the knowledge and consent of both editors. We are deeply concerned about duplicate publication, a concern as relevant to medical education as to any other scientific field.

Publication standards in academia discourage publishing the same paper in different journals. Duplicating the publication of medical education articles will not enhance the stature of our field among colleagues from other scientific disciplines in medicine or among our colleagues within medical education. For academic promotion purposes, a great deal of weight is put on the number of publications cited by candidates. Dual publication may be seen by our colleagues as an inappropriate means of increasing one's list of publications. Dr. Friedman's CV needs no such enhancement, but we are concerned about the example that may have been inadvertently provided for junior investigators in the field. We fear that more faculty in medical education research may now try to get their papers published in more than one journal since a precedent has been set. Obviously, we do not agree with this practice. It is not good for the field or academia. Furthermore, it is not necessary, because electronic access to the literature lessens the need to duplicate papers to reach wider audiences.

This paper was presented at two conferences whose proceedings are published by two different journals. It was first presented at the RIME conference in October 1999 and delivered again nearly a year later at the annual meeting of the Association of Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) in Beer Sheva in August 2000. Yet, Medical Teacher published the paper first, although the RIME Conference routinely publishes its keynote address in Academic Medicine.

We wish to express our concern about this incident and hope that it will remain an unfortunate exception to usual publication standards. Repetitions can only hurt the field of medical education and foster bad relationships among members of the international community of medical educators.

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1. Friedman CP. The marvelous medical education machine or how medical education can be unstuck in time. Med Teach. 2000;22:496–502.
2. Friedman CP. The marvelous medical education machine or how medical education can be unstuck in time. Acad Med. 2000;75(10 suppl):S137–S142.
© 2001 Association of American Medical Colleges