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Rising Number of "Duplicate" Articles in Medline Database

Researchers Suggest Rising Number of "Duplicate" Articles in Medline


As if there isn't enough information to sift through on the web, 
the journal Nature this week reported that as many as 200,000 of 
the 17 million articles in the Medline database could be 
duplicates, "either plagiarized or republished by the same author 
in different journals."

Using text-matching software, researchers Mounir Errami and 
Harold 'Skip' Garner at the University of Texas Southwestern 
Medical Center searched for "highly-similar abstracts" in a 
sample of 62,000 randomly-selected abstracts published since 
1995, finding 421 possible duplicates. "In general, the 
duplication of scientific articles has largely been ignored by 
the gatekeepers of scientific information-the publishers and 
database curators," the authors note in their paper. "Very few 
journal editors attempt to systematically detect duplicates at 
the time of submission."

Medline indexes over 5000 journals published in the United States 
and more than 80 other countries worldwide. The authors suggest 
that "rising duplicate publication rates" is a global phenomenon 
possibly driven by a number of factors including "the explosion 
in the number of journals with online content, increasing 
opportunities for unethical copying, and a body of literature 
growing so fast that the risk of being detected seems to 
diminish." Paraphrasing Dickens, the authors say that "in the 
world of biomedical publications, 'it is the best of times, it is 
the worst of times.' Scientific productivity, as measured by 
scholarly publication rates, is at an all-time high. However, 
high-profile cases of scientific misconduct remind us that not 
all those publications are to be trusted."