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Can Special Circumstances Justify Republication? A Difference of Opinions

Caelleigh, Addeane S.

Letters to the Editor

Ms. Caelleigh is the editor of Academic Medicine.

In reply: Drs. Bordage and Elstein raise an issue that concerns many journal editors. Duplicate publication both wastes resources and deprives other authors of valuable publication space, which is always at a premium in high-quality print journals. Further, duplicate publishing of research reports can distort the research record unless the articles are clearly labeled as being the same or substantially the same.

Editors who take stands on the practice usually agree that they deplore it but often disagree about how to handle individual cases. Some Anglo-phone editors consider it acceptable, for example, to republish an article in translation if doing so moves important information into the English-language research literature and related databases. Others do not consider republication acceptable if the original has already become part of the mainstream literature.

The article that Drs. Bordage and Elstein point to was published in a supplement containing proceedings of a conference where Dr. Friedman gave the speech on which the article was based. After explaining the issue to the sponsors of the RIME Proceedings supplement to Academic Medicine, I left the final decision to them, and they decided to allow the duplicate publication. By policy, Academic Medicine would not have republished the paper in a regular issue, on the principle that the first publication had introduced it into the English-language literature (including several prominent databases). But in view of the special circumstances, Professor Harden made a different decision —a case of fellow editors of good will having divergent opinions about a particular situation.

© 2001 Association of American Medical Colleges