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Submitting the same research to multiple conferences

I'm aware that it's a violation of terms for most publishers to submit the same article to more than one journal, but I frequently see authors whose papers seem very similar, particularly papers released in a single year. In my field, neuroscience, this is particularly true about conference papers; one researcher will often have numerous posters/conference papers about seemingly the same topic. What are the guidelines for acceptability regarding this type of behavior?