In this issue of JAMA, we are publishing a
letter of apology from Staats for duplicate publication of data from a randomized
controlled trial of ziconotide for treatment of pain in patients with cancer
or AIDS.1 Staats is the first author of the
report of this trial, which was published in JAMA in
January 2004.2 However, most of the data from
this study had been reported 4 years earlier by Mathur in a review article
in another journal.3 Determining which article
is original and which is duplicate is not a simple task. If duplication is
determined by which report was published first, the article by Mathur3 is clearly the first publication of the data from
this trial. But is it really the original report of this trial? The issue
is whether to define originality by publication date vs the authorized complete
report from those responsible for the conduct of the study and the collection,
analysis, and interpretation of the data. By my reasoning, the article by
Staats et al is a duplicate publication of the trial data, but it is the original
full report of the trial from the investigators who conducted the study.
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