Salami publication

From The Embassy of Good Science

Salami publication

What is this about?

Salami publication (also known as "salami slicing") is characterized by the spreading of study results over more papers than necessary. This article will briefly try to present what the criteria for and effects of salami publication are.

Why is this important?

Salami publication is a concept that is difficult to define, therefore making detection and prevention difficult, but it is generally considered to be a form of redundant publication and self-plagiarism characterized by the spreading of study results over more papers than necessary despite the same, or very similar, hypothesis, methodology, dataset or results. [1][2] The negative consequences of salami publication are multiple, and can be divided into two groups. The first is of a scientometric nature – scientists with more papers are likely to get more citations and probably more funding. The second, more serious, consequence is that results will be over-represented in meta-analyses, which are considered to be the highest level of evidence for any question [3] – salami publication skews the results of meta-analyses because the same data is unknowingly analyzed twice.

Examples

The most blunt example of salami publication is publishing the same paper twice, with slightly different conclusions [4]. This type of salami publication was much more likely to occur in the age before online databases – nowadays, salami publication is much more subtle. For example, studies which investigate levels of biomarkers in different phases of a disease end up being followed up by a different paper investigating diagnostic characteristics of those very same markers on the same datasets.

  1. Supak Smolcic V. Salami publication: definitions and examples. Biochem Medica. 2013;23(3):237-41.
  2. Committee on Publication Ethics. Cases. Salami Publication. Accessed 10 August 2020. Available at: https://publicationethics.org/case/salami-publication
  3. Abraham P. Duplicate and salami publications. J Postgrad Med. 2000;46(2):67-9.
  4. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Recommendations. Overlapping Publications. Accessed 29 May 2019. Available at: http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/publishing-and-editorial-issues/overlapping-publications.html

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