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The Editors of Sexually Transmitted Infections wish to bring to the attention of readers of the journal the significant overlap between the articles entitled “Who has Chlamydia? The prevalence of genital tract Chlamydia trachomatis within Portsmouth and South East Hampshire, UK”, which was published in the
(G Underhill, G Hewitt, L McLean, S Randall, J Tobin, V Harindra) and the paper “Opportunistic screening for genital chlamydial infection. II. Prevalence among healthcare attenders, outcome, and evaluation”, which was published in Sexually Transmitted Infections 2003;79:22–27 (J M Pimenta, M Catchpole, P A Rogers, J Hopwood, S Randall, H Mallinson, E Perkins, N Jackson, C Carlisle, G Hewitt, G Underhill, T Gleave, L McLean, A Ghosh, J Tobin, and V Harindra).
Rob Miller and Helen Ward
Editors, Sexually Transmitted Infections
The paper published in Sexually Transmitted Infections was written and submitted for publication according to a publication strategy agreed by the Department of Health’s Steering Committee for the national chlamydia screening pilot, that the first publications from the pilot should be based on a combined analysis of the results from the two sites taking part in the pilot. The paper published in Sexually Transmitted Infections was drafted and submitted by the national centre, which was charged with responsibility for management and analysis of data from the pilot as a whole, in consultation with all authors identified on the final published paper. The team at the national centre was wholly unaware that a similar paper, based on a subset of results from one pilot site, was accepted, after the date of acceptance of the paper published in Sexually Transmitted Infections, for publication in another journal.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to riposte. Our paper dealt with the Portsmouth data, as stated in the discussion, and included non-targeted groups, males, women over 25, and was specimen based. We considered the differences in methodology between The Wirral and Portsmouth to be of especial interest and felt there was justification for a separate paper.
The paper was submitted to your journal in the spring of 2002, 18 months after the end of the study. It was reviewed and we responded to the referee’s comments (mainly positive) and re-submitted the paper. Later you received the paper of Pimenta et al (of which we were also authors), which covered the results of both sites, but did not include males or women over 25, and was patient based. The Department of Health, who funded the study and had agreed that data from each site would be locally “owned”, knew about the Portsmouth paper but requested that the Pimenta paper be published first. After discussion, as suggested by Dr Shahmanesh, we submitted the Portsmouth paper to the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care. This was accepted for publication in the January 2003 edition, after the proposed publication of the Pimenta paper in December 2002. The editor of Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care saw both papers and made no suggestion of duplication. In the event, publication in STI was delayed until January 2003.
In retrospect, we could have attempted to include a reference to the Pimenta paper, but at the time the Portsmouth paper was accepted and ready for publication. In the discussion we stated that a report of the pilot study was to be published elsewhere and gave a website reference where further details could be obtained.
We believe that no duplicate publication occurred and hope that the readers of your journal will agree.
G Underhill, G Hewitt, S Randall, J Tobin, and V Harindra