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Ooops! Someone did it again. It turns out that the evidence you are relying on for your own research is actually a duplicate, in many ways, of another study from the same author. You thought that this evidence was of great importance because it appears more than once in your data research but, apparently, it derives from the same data collection as the first. Sadly, you discover more publications from the same author, with very close related findings and conclusions, the same data collection and hypothesis, but with different titles and abstracts. You have the feeling that all these different publications and their findings should somehow belong together, but they are scattered in literature instead. This could be a case of salami slicing in research.
Entering the academia world involves learning a whole bunch of good practice conducts and etiquette manners towards publishing. With the increase of scientific disciplines, more and more scientists aspire to obtain a respected position among their more experienced peers, by having a fair number of published papers out in the market. With pressure getting hold of them, they find ways to publish everything quickly, making poor decisions in terms of legal and ethical behaviour in science publishing. At some point, it was necessary to establish boundaries separating what is and what is not considered acceptable when it comes to publishing, for authors need to understand that scientific progress thrives on quality rather than quantity.
Know more: Integrity and quality in research.
What is salami slicing?
So, what exactly is salami slicing in research? This gastronomical image is used to describe the situation when a scientist slices a piece of research into several mini-research papers in order to publish a larger number of manuscripts. This will increase his/her chances of having work published and, later on, also increase citation rates. Unlike duplicate publication, in which the author states the exact same data into more than one publication, salami slicing involves spitting data into several publications. Generally, these publications share the same hypothesis, population and methods, which is deemed unethical.
However, there are times when it is necessary to break a research unit into separate and smaller units. For example, with very large studies – like clinical trials – where large amounts of data are involved, it can be useful to divide the research into smaller pieces. These studies often address multiple questions and have several outcomes in the end. In cases like these, it is legitimate to divide the larger study into multiple publications accordingly to different topic questions and their own outcome. Nevertheless, authors must openly report that that publication in particular is part of a larger research event.
At this point, many of you might ask: “what is wrong with publishing chunks of research rather than a whole? After all, it is my research. Why shouldn’t I benefit the most with it, having more chances of being published?”
In this “publish or perish” era, it is comprehensible that authors worry about their careers and feel anxious about publishing their research. But working for science is working for humanity in general. It is an altruistic job, with a lot of disappointment waiting for you just around the corner. When scientists begin to focus entirely on their individual gain, they may lose sight of the fact that they are part of a much larger force working to promote global progress. Salami slicing can have a significant negative influence on both individual careers and science in general:
At first sight, salami slicing looks rather tempting and unharmful: by cutting research into smaller bits and rendering them into several manuscripts for publication, you are actually maximizing your chances of getting your work published. After publication, your expectation is also to increase your citation rate and build a vast resume that will put you on the same level as your most respected fellow scientists. WRONG! What will happen is that sooner or later someone will appraise your body of work and conclude it isn’t substantial enough. Although very extensive, your publications individually will see their value and significance diminished, while potentially increasing the contempt of the scientific community towards you.
Like other ethically questionable practices, such as multiple submission or duplicate submission, salami slicing research also promotes waste of time and information duplication. In this particular case, the scattering of information prevents readers to generate a big picture on a certain topic, which may lead to the misinterpretation of the findings. Moreover, more literature doesn’t mean more knowledge: multiple reports with closely related data may result in captivating more attention than they actually deserve, distorting other researchers’ overall assessment over findings and conclusions.
Maintaining transparency and adhering to strict ethical standards is key to becoming the well-respected scientist that we all desire to be. Even if you think the right thing to do is to split your research into more than one manuscript – because it’s too extensive, for example – inform your publisher about your decision. For other concerns, like text editing and formatting, you can always rely on Elsevier, with Language Editing Plus Service. Together with our team, you can achieve excellency in written text, to impact positively your audience. Our language experts will pay special attention to the logic and flow of contents, adjusting your document to meet your needs. Apart from professional text edition, we offer reference checking and a customized Cover Letter. All this, with unlimited rounds of language review and full support at every step of the way. Use the simulator below to check the price for your manuscript, using the total number of words in your document.