We recently encountered a clear-cut case of self-plagiarism which led to a manuscript being rejected. We have thus added the following to the journal’s Editorial Policy. Going forwards, such a case would lead to a 2-year ban for the authors, but we did not impose it in this case since the policy had not been announced.
Citation of relevant work
- It is the authors’ responsibility to search for and cite relevant work – failing to cite because the authors were not aware of related paper is not a defense, if the authors should have reasonably found such a paper. Of course, we recognize that authors should not be expected to know of every potentially related paper, particularly if it is in a different field, and it is a “grey area” whether the authors know of the paper or whether the paper is sufficiently related to warrant citation. However, in some cases, it is reasonably clear that the related paper should have been cited – for example, if it is the authors’ own work (self-plagiarism), or if the authors cite the paper in their other papers (showing that they know it).
- Since failing to cite relevant work is a serious offense to the scientific research process, and substantially jeopardizes the journal’s reputation, we will impose a 2-year ban (from future submissions) to authors that knowingly fail to cite relevant work. This ban will apply to all authors of an offending submission. Given the “grey areas”, this ban will only be appointed in clear-cut cases.