Duplicate Research

I read with interest the story by Paul McCarthy on the problem of redundant publication in the March 8, 1993, issue of The Scientist (page 1) and the commentary on the subject by Eugene Garfield in the April 19 issue (page 12). Garfield is right, of course, that there is a long-standing problem that could be solved by editors' and researchers' making better use of citation searches. However, I believe the emphasis on "publication"

By | June 14, 1993

I read with interest the story by Paul McCarthy on the problem of redundant publication in the March 8, 1993, issue of The Scientist (page 1) and the commentary on the subject by Eugene Garfield in the April 19 issue (page 12).

Garfield is right, of course, that there is a long-standing problem that could be solved by editors' and researchers' making better use of citation searches. However, I believe the emphasis on "publication" is misplaced.

Duplication of the research itself is more important than redundant publication. "Better yet," as Garfield says, investigators should run a literature search "before fully embarking on a research project." Much duplication could also be avoided by use of citation searches by the panels that authorize the research, at the proposal stage, just in case the author of the proposal missed something important with too narrow a search.

I estimate that the cost of redundant research exceeds the cost of redundant publication by a minimum factor of 100. In other words, I would focus on the real waste of money in research design, equipment, labor, supplies, and use of facilities rather than the trifling waste associated with redundant publication. By the time a report of such a waste of time and money is submitted to an editor, the damage is done.

ALBERT HENDERSON
Bridgeport, Conn.


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