Multiple, duplicate, concurrent publication/simultaneous submission
Articles submitted for publication must be original and must not have been submitted to any other publication. Except in every circumstance (and then only with your arrangements as the editor), authors are expected to submit articles that are original and have not been submitted to any other publication. Occasionally, authors may disregard this requirement, submitting the same paper to multiple journals or submitting multiple journals or submitting multiple papers based on the same research.
As with plagiarism, duplicate submission may take several forms: literal duplication, partial but substantial duplication, or even duplication by paraphrasing. Some journals have editorial policies that prohibit or discourage the publication of numerous papers based on the same research.
Cases of literal or substantial literal duplication should be reasonably easy to detect and remedy. Cases closer to paraphrasing or involving the same research are much more difficult to detect or analyze. This is particularly so when an author writes about his or her own research in two or more articles from different angles or on different aspects of the research. In such cases, an objective judgment of whether duplicate submission has taken place be made, based on your knowledge of the area of research. In difficult cases, you may need to seek guidance from other specialists in that field of research.
Our practical guide: what counts as prior publication? offers guidelines to help you determine whether prior research should be considered formally published
English-language version submission of paper published in other language
An author may publish a paper in a language other than English in a journal of local circulation and may then submit an English-language version to an Elsevier journal. You may decline to publish a paper of this kind. If it is the journal's policy is to publish some papers of this kind, and your feel it is appropriate to do so, you may agree to publish the paper provided that the proper procedure has been followed:
Full disclosure has been made to the editor of all previous publications of the paper in any language.
A full and reasonably prominent note, usually in the form of a footnote on the title page that record the prior publication, accompanies the English-language version of the paper.
All necessary consents have been obtained from the previous publisher of the paper in any other language and from any other person who might own rights in the paper.
The complainant must be made aware that the matter cannot be investigated unless at some point the journal editor informs the corresponding (or complained-about) author (due process) and likely the other journal.
Comparison of relevant texts
The first stage must be a simple comparison of the relevant texts. This might involve a simple side-by-side comparison by the editor for the simpler forms of duplicate publication or a more thoughtful analysis by the editor if the same research or single research has apparently been inappropriately written up as separate articles.
Note that an identical or similar version of an article may have been published by one journal (often in a national or local edition, usually in a local language) and legitimately republished in another more international journal. The ethical implications of such republication will depend on the editorial policies of the journal - and agreement by the editors of the two journals involved. Republication may be appropriate provided the prior publication and any relevant facts concerning such publication are disclosed to and agreed by the editor. A brief explanation of these circumstances and full citation details for the previous article should be published along with the newly published version, preferably as a footnote to the title.
Frequently asked questions
Then the editor should communicate accordingly with the corresponding (or complained-about) author and likely the other journal. Either the editor or possibly the publishing staff may contact the other journal where the duplicate publication occured. The editor is more likely to contact the other editor (see Form Letter D for this purpose). Elsevier's publishing staff are more likely to contact the publisher.
It may be useful for the editor to involve other peer reviewers, editorial board members, or experts in the relevant field, using standard peer review procedures, to review the texts (especially if the allegation is a more complex form of multiple publication).
In the communication to the corresponding (or complained-about) author (see Form Letter A), the editor may indicate that it is possible that the matter may be referred to the institution or company where the research took place or any other relevant institution or agency (for example a funding agency) unless the author provides a reasonable explanation (accepted as reasonable by the editor).
Then a corrigendum or the retraction procedure are the normal remedies. Note that there may still be disagreement concerning the appropriate description of the reason. It is normally sufficient to simply indicate that the complained-about version was in essence previously published in the other journal.
Then the editor will have to consider whether the author's explanation is reasonable. Normally the editor would also inform the complainant of the author's explanation and seek comment (see Form letter B).
Then it would be fail for the editor to draw an inference that there is some substance to the complaint.
Then the editor will be expected to make determination, in his or her reasonable judgement, as to the underlying facts, and to make a recommendation to Elsevier (and possible the society for a society journal), which Elsevier will implement normally through some form of notice, corrigendum, or the retraction and removal process.
These are available for a second opinion (*). This is often the time for the editor to discuss the case with his/her publishing contact within Elsevier and agree what action, if any, needs to be taken.