Two unethical research publishing practices to avoid are multiple submissions and ‘salami publishing‘:
⛔ Multiple submissions means trying to submit your research paper to more than one publisher at a time to increase your chances of getting published.
⛔ Salami publishing (also known as ‘salami slicing’) means dividing your research findings into thin ‘slices’ and publishing each one separately to try to increase your total publication count.
Multiple submission means sending your manuscript to more than one journal at a time in the hope that it will be published by one of them. Never submit your work to more than one journal at a time.
It might seem like a good idea to submit your manuscript to more than one publication to save time and increase your chances of acceptance. Do not do this. You must only submit your work to only one journal at a time. It is considered unethical to submit a manuscript to multiple journals at the same time because doing so can potentially lead to copyright problems and waste journals’ time and resources. Another reason is that repeated evidence in the literature will bias the overall evidence, because a study may be counted more than once in meta-analyses that pool all available data to calculate an overall effect.
⚠ Your work may be rejected by all of the journals if it is found that you have made a multiple submission.
When can you submit your work to another journal?
If you submit your manuscript to one journal and it is rejected, it is acceptable to then submit it to another journal.
What if you decide to submit your work to a different journal?
If you wish to withdraw your submitted manuscript from one journal and submit it to a different journal, you must write to inform the editor of the first journal. You need written confirmation that your submission has been withdrawn before you submit your work to a different journal. Do not just assume if you do not hear anything that your original submission has been withdrawn; you need to obtain a formal notice from the first journal before you can submit your manuscript elsewhere.
⚠ Always be sure that all the co-authors of a manuscript agree to submitting it to your target journal to avoid any potential conflicts. If you decide to withdraw your submission, you also need to have approval from all the co-authors.
“Salami” publication or salami slicing is the practice of dividing the findings of one study into a series of shorter articles. The technical term is publishing the “least publishable unit”, “smallest publishable unit”, “minimum publishable unit”, or “publon”.
Authors may feel pressured to publish salami to increase their number of publications. However, these separate papers will share methodologies, study populations, or hypotheses. Publishing findings in parts, and not in one place in full, means the reader is not provided with all the information necessary for critical evaluation. The chance for duplication of text or data (and hence self-plagiarism) is also very high.
This practice is very different from sequential publishing, which is publishing several articles in chronological order, building on and developing previous research. As a general principle, if the results of several papers all come from the same study population, and results are dependent on one another, they should be published in the same study.
✅ Publishing all the related findings in one larger paper will usually allow you to submit your work to a higher impact factor journal. Your complete paper will likely gain more total citations than smaller papers because it will have greater visibility and importance in the field—all of which helps to advance your career.