A new study is casting a light on the controversial practice in academic publishing of "salami slicing" -- or the publication of several studies from just one set of clinical data.
Blogger and award-winning reporter Ed Silverman defines salami slicing this way: "Simply put, this involves publishing separate, but similar articles that rely on the same set of data. Researchers may slice the salami to increase their publishing output and drugmakers may view this as a way to promote useful findings for their meds.
The study, in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, says the practice does little to advance science, but can help boost drug sales and feed a researcher's need to publish or perish.
Salami publications may be included as part of a pharmaceutical firm’s publication plan. When supportive and highly similar points about a drug’s efficacy and/or safety from a single clinical trial are published in a variety of journals, a wide audience of potential prescribers and key opinion leaders is reached. Thus, in addition to padding the curricula vitae of researchers, salami publications may lead to the results of a successful trial being disseminated across several publications, likely helping to boost product visibility and reinforcing the product’s key marketing messages. Because various researchers and clinicians read differing journals, they may not notice that redundant findings are being presented in multiple publications.
The study found that six clinical trial were sliced thin enough to be used in 20 or more different published studies.