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The hanging committee of Sexually Transmitted Infections wishes to announce that two published papers by van Valkengoed et al1, 2 exhibit a degree of overlap. Specifically, the female patients are the same in both papers. They are indistinguishable from the point of population size (5714), age (15–40), setting, participation rate (51%), chlamydia prevalence rate (2.8%; CI 2.1–3.4%), and the number of women excluded because of never having been sexually active (125). There is also a certain degree of overlap between the two papers in the introduction, methods, results, and discussion sections.
We strongly disagree with your conclusion that we are guilty of duplicate publication. The objectives, analyses, and results presented in the two papers in Sexually Transmitted Diseases (paper 1)1 and Sexually Transmitted Infections (paper 2)2 are completely different and do not resemble each other at all. The aim of paper 1 was to determine the value of currently publicised screening criteria for asymptomatic populations as selection criteria for the general population. A literature review was performed to identify criteria for women. Criteria for men were not available. These criteria were then applied to the female participants in the Amsterdam Screening Study. The diagnostic accuracy of these criteria was then found to be poor. That led to the second research question, which was addressed in paper 2: Could suitable new criteria for selective screening of females and males be derived from our own study population? In paper 2 we report on the development of this new set of selective screening criteria and their diagnostic accuracy. In addition, detailed prevalence data and the results for both men and women non-respondents in the Amsterdam Screening Study were presented.
The papers did not contain references to each other. This was not through intent, but because of the simultaneous process of submission for publication. At the time of submission, there was simply no other “paper” to refer to. When checking the proofs of the papers we should have added “in press” to the references, which we neglected to do. We sincerely apologise for this and will remember to do so in future.
In summary, we believe your verdict of duplicate publication to be unjust and your sanction to be too harsh for the omission of cross references.