Q: Can I publish an article with the results of two different papers in a third journal in a different language?

Detailed Question -

I published one part of the results of a research in English and another part of the results in Persian (Iranian language) in two different journals. Now, I want to publish a paper with the sum of the results in a third journal.

1 Answer to this question

This is a somewhat complex situation, involving several intricacies. It may not be possible for us to provide a precise response without knowing details. So, we shall offer only general recommendations here.

  • On the face of it, it would seem like you are engaging in salami slicing, the act of presenting one research paper as multiple papers in order to increase your paper count. The one time it would warrant publishing one paper as multiple is when the scope of the research is large. This is something you’d be best to decide.
  • When deciding on publishing multiple papers based on the same research or data, you need to be completely transparent about the situation with the various journals. If the journal(s) is fine, you can go ahead. This means that you can discuss this with the new journal you have in mind. This also means that you should have done this with the second journal (Persian). In case you haven’t, that may prove to be unethical with regard to the second journal, and could lead to a retraction later.
  • In cases like these, you need to cite the previous paper. So, if you get the go-ahead from the new journal, ensure you do this for the two previous papers. And again, if you didn’t do this with the second journal (with regard to the first paper), this may have been potentially unethical.
  • As an overarching guideline, it’s best to publish related papers as follow-ups, that is, in the same journal. However, that will probably not be the case here, for a combination of reasons: you have published half the results in an English journal, the other half in a Persian journal, and now, wish to present the consolidated results in a third journal. What would probably be most ethical to do is to publish the final results in the first (English) journal after referencing the second (Persian) journal. Of course, obtain permissions from all journals before doing so (in case you haven’t).

Hope that helps. We have provided below some equally intricate queries by other researchers around matters of (un)ethical publishing. They may offer additional insights for your situation.

Additionally, you might find this course on publication ethics quite useful: How to avoid retractions and publish ethically

All the best for however you choose to proceed.