Another installment of Ask Retraction Watch:
I reviewed an article for two different journals that presented data from a large non-public data set. A previous publication from the same group had presented findings on the same topic from the dataset, but the new paper didn’t mention these previous analyses. The new paper had more detailed analyses. As a reviewer, both times I said that they really needed to mention that there were previous analyses of the same topic from the same dataset and say what their new analysis was contributing (not much!). Both times they basically refused and it got rejected. Then it got published in another journal (I didn’t review it this time) still without citing the previous analyses from the same data set.
Take our poll, and comment below.What should a reviewer do in a case like this?
- Contact the journal that published the paper privately about these concerns. 58.75% (151 votes)
- Write a letter to the editor for publication. 25.68% (66 votes)
- Nothing. Reviews are confidential. 9.34% (24 votes)
- Nothing, since the authors did not make any actual error (16 votes)
What would you do about this shady behavior?
Having written more than one paper out of the same data set more than once, with some of the marginal contributions more marginal than others, I think you should always self-cite if the papers are related.
As I've repeated here many times (stop reading if you are tired of this story!), I once had a paper rejected from the AJAE after self-citing a previous paper using different data and different theory but had it rejected because a referee accused us of self-plagiarism. We explained all this to the editor but he chose the safest option.