SAN FRANCISCO—What constitutes duplicate publication of scientific material? And what should happen to researchers who cross that line?

The September 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine featured letters from readers who complained that an article on postmenopausal bone loss in the January 22 issue of NEJM was remarkably similar to an article by the same authors in the January issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The authors replied that the pa- pers had two different messages and answered two different questions. The NEJM editors called the evidence for duplicate publication “unequivocal” and publicly reprimanded the authors.

The two articles, submitted by Bente Riis, Claus Christiansen et al of the University of Copenhagen’s Glostrup Hospital in Denmark, were based on a double-blind clinical trial involving 270 recently poatmenopausal women. One, concluding that percutaneous estradiol can help prevent postmenopausal bone loss, was rejected earlier by NEJM...

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