Dual publication of surgical abstracts is acceptableBMJ 1997; 314 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7098.1903 (Published 28 June 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1903
Editor—I C Cameron and colleagues raise two important issues: whether surgeons wish to see duplicate presentations of research at national meetings and whether dual publication of abstracts should be prevented.1 The British Journal of Surgery has published abstracts for the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, a general surgical meeting, since 1996. The proceedings of the Vascular Surgical Society of Great Britain and Ireland are also published (59 abstracts from the meeting in November 1996). The meeting of the Association of Surgeons held last month, five months after the meeting of the Vascular Surgical Society, contained 40 vascular presentations (30% of the total) and 32 (32%) posters. Nine of the presentations and four posters were repeats from the meeting of the Vascular Surgical Society.
The British Journal of Surgery does not believe that duplication of these 13 abstracts constitutes dual publication in the same sense as reproduction of definitive papers. Abstracts are published as a courtesy to national societies, and the editorial board has no control over selection. Individual societies make the rules governing the composition of meetings and papers to be presented. However, a vascular surgeon who attended the meetings of both the Association of Surgeons and the Vascular Surgical Society would no doubt have been dismayed to find almost a quarter of the presentations repeated. Perhaps if these papers had been selected deliberately for a more general audience this might have been justified. Vascular papers, however, constituted 30% of the papers at the meeting of the Association of Surgeons, and the satellite meetings arrangement meant that these meetings were largely attended by vascular surgeons. There seems to be little justification for a second presentation of scientific information unless this is to fill out a curriculum vitae. Two of the repeat presentations at the meeting of the Association of Surgeons had different first authors, and seven had different titles.
The responsibility for the decision about papers to be presented rests with the scientific committee of the society concerned. Individual surgeons must lobby these scientific committees if they wish more stringent rules to be developed to prevent duplicate presentations. Meanwhile, the British Journal of Surgery does not believe that duplicate publication of abstracts is culpable.