Self-plagiarism of a Case Report in NEJM and Salami Publications

Self-plagiarism is the reuse of significant, identical, or nearly identical portions of one’s own work without acknowledging that one is doing so or without citing the original work (source: Wikipedia).

Last week, I updated the references of my post about complications of central line placement with another image from NEJM. Clicking through an old NEJM reference, I noticed something interesting -- the author has retracted his NEJM publication due to self-plagiarism. The same case was published twice in 2006 before being accepted to NEJM in 2007. The first publication was just an abstract in Circulation and one can probably argue that this does not impact the publication of the full case report. The second publication however features the complete report with the same striking images shown later in the NEJM.

This is an example of self-plagiarism -- a practice which should be strongly discouraged.

Another "academic trick" is publishing so-called "salami papers." For example, one large project is split ("sliced) in 2-4 smaller articles published in different journals and finally, the full manuscript is submitted at the end of the process. "Salami slicing" refers to the practice of creating several publications out of material that could have been published in a single journal or review (source: Wikipedia).

"Self-plagiarism: unintentional, harmless, or fraud?" was a recent commentary in the Lancet. Journals increasingly seeing submissions in which large parts of text have been copied from previously published papers by the same author. Lancet (

The Lancet Editor-in-Chief tweets his dark view of contemporary medicine, related to the salami publication conflict between NEJM and Lancet  - Forbes, 2012.


Something you have never seen before -- a rare central line complication in NEJM
Complications of Central Line Placement - Pneumothorax, Arrhythmia, Hematoma
Retraction: Guo H. Complication of Central Venous Catheterization. N Engl J Med 2007;356:e2
Academic Plagiarism. Irving Hexham, Department of Religious Studies, University of Calgary.
Plagiarism, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Dealing With Salami Publication. The World Association of Medical Editors.
Odd Ghostwriting Offer Raises Researcher’s Blood Pressure. WSJ’s Health Blog, 11/2007.
Fight against plagiarism continues one npublisher rejected 23% of submitted papers after using CrossCheck. Nature News, 2010.
Image source: Wikipedia, a Creative Commons license.


  1. I learn something new each day. I understand self-plagiarism, but publishing salami-papers is "just" unethical or it is totally forbidden?

  2. My question is the same as Bertalan - what is the issue with "salami papers"? Are they verboten, and if so, why?

  3. The answer is in one of the references above and it is linked again here:

  4. Choosing An Online Plagiarism Detector To Check For Plagiarism

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  5. Another example: