I have seen colleagues present the same data analysis multiple times over several years.
By present, I mean two things. First, present the work to other faculty and PhD students in departmental seminars and informal brown bags. Second, I mean present the research to journals by submitting it for peer review.
Each time I see the work presented, the data analysis is rather similar to the last time I saw it presented. But what the study is "about" changes significantly, sometimes using different theories and claiming to have a new research question.
What does not change is that the paper claims to test hypotheses derived from whatever theory they are using. The hypotheses keep changing, but the analysis doesn't change.
The changes to the theory and research question are explained as having the previous paper rejected at a journal and needing to change the "framing" of the paper or responding to reviewers who "didn't like" the way the analysis was presented.
Is the behavior of my colleagues ethical?