Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Analysis of Chinese herbal creams prescribed for dermatological conditions

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 27 February 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:563

Rapid Response:

The problem with redundant publication is failure to disclose it

The problem with redundant publication is not publishing the same
material twice, which happens all the time, but rather doing so without
full disclosure. It is the intent to deceive which is the problem. For
example, the Committee on Publication Ethics report, which was published
earlier this month, defines redundant publication thus: "Redundant
publication occurs when two or more papers, without full cross reference,
share the same hypothesis, data, discussion points, or conclusions." (1)
In other words, publishing material in the WJM that has appeared in the
BMJ is not redundant publication--because it is disclosed.

We have for nearly 20 years taken material that was published in the
BMJ and republished it in our local editions. The Student BMJ contains
material published in the weekly BMJ. Our ABC books, which again go back
20 years, republish material that is published in the BMJ. Our regret is
not that we do this but that we don't do it more. Publishers meet the
needs of different groups and audiences by republishing material. We
sometimes publish material that has appeared in other publications in the
BMJ--usually when we know that very few of our audience will have seen the
material. There is currently little overlap between the readers of the WJM
(most of whom at the moment are in New Mexico) and the readers of the BMJ.

Richard Smith

Editor, BMJ

1 Committee on Publication Ethics. The COPE Report 1999. London: BMJ
Publishing Group, 1999. (

Competing interests: No competing interests

27 September 1999
Richard Smith