The Office of Research Integrity’s Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research (which is referred to in Section 2 of the HKU Policy on Research Integrity) explains the phenomenon commonly known as ‘salami-slicing’ as follows:
“Salami publication (sometimes called bologna or trivial publication) is the practice of dividing one significant piece of research into a number of small experiments (least publishable units or LPUs), simply to increase the number of publications. This practice may distort the value of the work by increasing the number of studies that appear to support it. It also wastes valuable time and resources. Before an article is published it is reviewed, edited, and in one form or another prepared for publication. After publication it is entered into indexes and databases, such as the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed®. Libraries and individuals purchase the journal in which it is published. If the same information could be summarized in one article as opposed to two, three, or more, everyone involved, from the publishers to libraries and the researchers who have to keep up to date on current information, benefits. Researchers therefore should avoid trivial or salami publication.”
Although the HKU Policy on Research Integrity does not expressly use the term ‘salami’, ‘bologna’ or ‘trivial’ publication, the following is stated in Section 1 (‘Principles of Research Integrity’):
“All researchers of the University are committed to the principle of honesty in conducting research and in communicating research findings to the research community and the public. Honesty is required in presenting research goals and intentions, and in reporting procedures and findings. Such presentation and reporting must be full and fair.”
The following is stated in Section 2.1 (‘Responsible conduct of research’):
“Research findings should be reported fully and in an objective manner.”
In addition, the following is stated in Section 2.2 (‘Publication-related conduct’):
“Research results should be published in a timely manner … Publication of the same (or substantial parts of the same) work in different journals is acceptable only with the consent of the editors of the journals and where proper reference is made to the first publication. In the author’s CV such related articles must be indicated as such and not give the impression that they are distinct research outputs when they are in fact the same … In communicating research findings to the general public (for example, through popular media), the same standards of honesty, objectivity and fairness should be observed. The significance or the practical use of the research findings or products, as well as the limitations of the findings, should be presented in a truthful manner, and the reported findings should not be misleadingly selective or exaggerated.” (emphasis added)
In addition, the following is stated in Section 3.1 (‘Plagiarism and Self-plagiarism’):
“Self-plagiarism is reuse of one’s own data or previously written work in a ‘new’ publication without acknowledging that the data set has been used or written work has been published elsewhere”
In light of the provisions set out above, HKU researchers would be well advised to avoid salami-slicing.
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