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henry.wood 10-01-2014 04:41 AM

My papers all need to cite each other
I was wondering if I could query the collective experience. I am working on a number of projects, and their papers all need to cite data from the other projects as controls, but I'm worried that will be disclosure of the control data, harming its own publication chances.
To clarify, I'm working on one project, looking at the biology of a tumour type, let's call it 'A', for which I have acquired various sorts of sequence data. Someone else in our group is working on a different tumour type 'B'. Their paper is comparing A to B, showing where they are similar, and where they are different. If the paper just about A comes out first, then I can just cite it in the B paper. It seems likely that the B paper will be ready first. If I put the A data in the B paper as a control, then when I come to write the A paper, most of the data will already be published, reducing its impact. On the other hand, I can't be enigmatic in the B paper, saying 'B is different to A (unpublished)'.
In a related problem, I have a collaborator who is working on a bioinformatic method to tell tumour types apart. They would quite like to use the A versus B comparison in their methods paper, but that would mean disclosing all the data in the methods paper. The A versus B authors would like to use this method, but that would mean disclosing the method in their biology paper.
All quite a tangle. None of these papers would work very well if merged, as they are dealing with different issues. I don't really know how to cite so much nearly published work, especially as I don't know which papers will come out soonest.
Any solutions/similar experiences welcome.


dpryan 10-01-2014 05:06 AM

Are you targeting the papers toward the same journal (or at least publisher)? That can make things much easier since you can try to get things jointly released (note, you'll probably need some clout to pull this off).

If not, it's not unheard of to not mention some details in a method section and simply say "details to follow in a separate publication". You'll probably still need to give that to the reviewers, since they'll need it to judge the appropriateness of the controls. You should just get in touch with an editor at whatever journal you want to send things to first and ask him/her about the journals preferences on this (just use a presubmission inquiry).

I'm curious to find out what solution ends up working for you!

henry.wood 10-02-2014 05:47 AM

Thanks for answering so quickly.
We aren't targeting the same journals at the moment. Even if we were, the odds of getting all papers in their first choice journal is not great. (Sadly I do not have enough clout for headline grabbing sister papers).
I think contacting the editor(s) in advance is not a bad idea. Our probable strategy will be to put the various groups into the short read archives as separate entities, and have each paper refer to the relevant ones. The sequence itself was generated in a short space of time with not much effort (I'm doing my clinical and lab based collaborators a slight disservice). It is the intellectual effort to analyse it that is most citable. Since each paper will have broadly different analyses, then hopefully they will be considered distinct enough.

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