Q: Can I use one part of my submitted paper and develop it into another paper?

Detailed Question -

I submitted a paper to a journal and it is very likely to be published. This paper includes a lot of experiment data and content: if I break them up, I can write 3 papers. However, I have not provided a detailed explanation and introduction in my submitted paper. I plan to take out one part of the paper and provide more details and analyze a part of the theory which is not presented in the previous paper. If I prepare this paper and submit, will this be considered a duplicate submission?

1 Answer to this question

This would probably not be considered a case of duplicate submission. Duplicate submission is when you submit two or more papers with the same or very similar content to two different journals. 

However, if you are not careful, what you are planning to do could be considered a case of salami slicing. You should not write multiple papers just to increase the number of your publications. According to the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), it is unethical to partition a study into multiple papers if the results are best presented as a ‘cohesive’ single whole. This is referred to as salami slicing or data fragmentation and should be avoided at all costs, as it can have serious implications on your career. 

Having said this, not all related studies are considered unethical. For instance, if the second paper that you plan to write is about a secondary finding that you had not focused on in the previous paper, it is acceptable as long as you cite the first paper and have a completely different focus. You can definitely cite the part of the study or the data set which gave you this result, but you have to develop this idea into a new research question and make sure that all parts of the paper- the literature review, discussion, analysis of the findings - are completely different. Additionally, you should clarify in the cover letter that you have another paper on a related topic and provide a copy of the previous paper with your manuscript at the time of submission.