October 13, 2004

Duplicate Publication, Multiple Problems

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Dr DeAngelis is Editor-in-Chief, JAMA.

JAMA. 2004;292(14):1745-1746. doi:10.1001/jama.292.14.1745

In this issue of JAMA, we are publishing a letter of apology from Staats for duplicate publication of data from a randomized controlled trial of ziconotide for treatment of pain in patients with cancer or AIDS.1 Staats is the first author of the report of this trial, which was published in JAMA in January 2004.2 However, most of the data from this study had been reported 4 years earlier by Mathur in a review article in another journal.3 Determining which article is original and which is duplicate is not a simple task. If duplication is determined by which report was published first, the article by Mathur3 is clearly the first publication of the data from this trial. But is it really the original report of this trial? The issue is whether to define originality by publication date vs the authorized complete report from those responsible for the conduct of the study and the collection, analysis, and interpretation of the data. By my reasoning, the article by Staats et al is a duplicate publication of the trial data, but it is the original full report of the trial from the investigators who conducted the study.

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