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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, from 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 science disciplines, more and more scientists long to earn a respected position among their more experienced colleagues by having a fair number of published papers out in the market. With pressure getting hold of them, they find ways to publish anything very fast making bad choices regarding legal and ethical conducts 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 on 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 achieve a bigger volume of manuscripts for publication. 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 not considered ethically acceptable.
There are situations though, when it makes sense dividing a research unit into separate and smaller units. For example, very large studies – like clinical trials – where large amounts of data are involved. 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 just around the corner. When scientists start to think solely about their own benefit, the odds are that they forget they are a part of a much greater force, that is to improve global progress. Salami slicing can bring a huge negative impact in individual careers as well as in science generally:
At first sight, salami slicing looks rather tempting and unharmful: by cutting research into smaller bits and render them into several manuscripts for publication, you are actually maximizing your chances of having published work. After publication, your expectation is also to increase your citation rate and build a vast resume which will put you on the same level of your most respected fellow scientist. 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, apart from 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 of 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 that they actually deserve, distorting other researcher’s overall assessment over findings and conclusions.
Maintaining transparency and strict ethical conduct is key to become the well-regarded scientist that we all aspire to be. Even if you think the right thing to do is to split your research into more than one manuscript – because it’s to 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 of your document.