Any manuscript submitted to a BioMed Central journal must be original. The manuscript, or substantial parts of it, must not be under consideration by any other journal.
In general, the manuscript should not have already been formally published in any journal or other citable form.
But, if made clear and justifiable upon submission, there are several exceptions to this rule. Details of the nature of overlapping or duplicate (redundant) publication, along with guidance in each of these cases follow below. These are also summarised in Table 1.
In any case where there is the potential for overlap or duplication we require that authors are transparent. Any potentially overlapping publications should be declared on submission and, where possible, uploaded as additional files with the manuscript. Any overlapping publications should be cited. The Editors of BioMed Central's journals reserve the right to judge potentially overlapping or redundant publications on a case-by-case basis.
Any suspected cases of covert duplicate manuscript submission will be handled as per the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines. BioMed Central endorses the policies of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors in relation to overlapping publications.
Pre-print servers and author/institutional repositories
Posting a manuscript on a pre-print server such as ArXiv or Nature Precedings is not considered to be duplicate publication. BioMed Central will also consider peer reviewing manuscripts that have been posted on an author's personal or institutional website. Material that has formed part of an academic thesis and been placed in the public domain, as per the awarding institution's guidelines, will also be considered by BioMed Central's journals.
BioMed Central also encourages self-archiving by authors of manuscripts accepted for publication in its journals.
Health Technology Assessment
The NHS Health Technology Assessment programme's monographs are freely accessible in full online, but will be considered for peer review at the discretion of the Editors' of the BioMed Central journal receiving the manuscript. Whilst further publication of these articles - in full or in a repurposed format - in PubMed-indexed journals can increase their visibility and relevance to readers, some BioMed Central journals will not consider them.
Cochrane systematic reviews
BioMed Central does not currently have a co-publication agreement with the Cochrane Library for its systematic reviews. BioMed Central will therefore only consider peer reviewing original Cochrane systematic reviews, or updated versions of these articles that provide substantial new information.
Co-publication in multiple journals
If transparent, with prior agreement of the relevant journals and under the conditions specified in the ICMJE guidelines, co-publication in multiple journals will be considered at the Editor(s)' discretion.
Manuscripts resulting from abstracts and posters presented at, or published as part of, academic meetings represent a formal advance to the citable scientific record and therefore should be considered for peer review. Published abstracts should be cited.
If authors have previously discussed or posted their own data in venues such as blogs, wikis, social networking websites, or online electronic lab notebooks, they are still able to submit their findings to BioMed Central's journals.
However, given the rapidly evolving nature of these resources, where discussion of data or manuscripts posted to these venues has subsequently been incorporated into the manuscript, the BioMed Central journal Editors may make their own assessment as to whether there may be duplication in the submitted manuscript.
Given that the space available for research articles published in BioMed Central's journals is almost limitless, at the Editor(s)' discretion some journals will consider manuscripts that are substantially extended versions of articles that have previously been published in another peer-reviewed journal. The journal Trials, in particular, actively encourages this activity. In such cases the prior publication of an abridged version of the article would therefore not preclude publication, provided the new manuscript represents a substantially novel contribution to the scientific record. If applicable the authors should seek approval from the original publisher before submitting the extended version of the manuscript.
Making scientific data sets publicly available before resulting manuscripts are submitted should not preclude consideration by a BioMed Central journal. Given an increasing number of research funding-agencies' requirements for sharing the 'raw data' research outputs of their grant holders, data sharing is encouraged by BioMed Central, provided appropriate safeguards are in place to protect personal or sensitive information.
Publication of study protocols reduces the risk of non-publication of research findings and facilitates methodological discussion and is encouraged by a number of BioMed Central journals. As such prior publication of a study protocol before submission of a manuscript reporting results should not be considered duplicate publication.
Summary clinical trial results in public registries
Posting of summary clinical trial results in publicly accessible databases should not be considered duplicate publication. In the US, submission of trial results to ClinicalTrials.gov is a statutory requirement. More information on this requirement can be found here.
Authors of non-research articles (usually commissioned reviews and commentaries) can include figures and tables that have been previously published in other journals provided they confirm on submission that permission has been obtained from the original publisher (if applicable) and cite the original article.
In order to avoid the potential for self-plagiarism, inadvertently or otherwise, authors agreeing to write commissioned articles should notify the BioMed Central journal's editorial office of any recent publications or invitations to write on a similar topic.
BioMed Central is a member of CrossCheck's plagiarism detection initiative.
Generally permissible and non-permissible forms of duplicate/overlapping publication
|Type of duplicate/overlapping publication||Guidance on permissibility|
|Pre-print servers including authors' personal and institutional websites||Yes|
|Abstracts/posters presented at scientific meetings||Yes - published abstracts should be cited|
|Health Technology Assessment||At the Editor(s)' discretion - contact journal's editorial office for more information|
|Cochrane systematic reviews||No, unless original or substantially updated|
|Open science - data posted on wikis, blogs, electronic online notebooks, networking websites||Yes|
|Open science - data posted and discussion on wikis, blogs, electronic online notebooks, networking websites incorporated into submitted manuscript.||At the Editor(s)' discretion - contact the journal's editorial office for more information|
|Figures and tables in non-research articles.||Yes, if, where applicable permission has been obtained from the original publisher, by the submitting author|
|Abridged articles.||At the Editor(s)' discretion provided there is agreement with the original journal/publisher, and the original publication is cited|
|Data set in public or restricted access repositories.||Yes - data sets should be cited in/hyperlinked from, the manuscript if possible.|
|Study protocol published.||Yes - published protocols should be cited|
|Summary results in clinical trial registries.||Yes - accession number should be included in the abstract|
|Co-publication in multiple journals.||At the Editor(s)' discretion and with conditions, as per ICMJE guidelines|