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I am currently a master student working in robotics. In my research project, I have been building up a systematic framework for my research problem. I have collected a dataset in the process and experiment with it using some advanced algorithms I have proposed. And the paper 1 I have written address in detail how those advanced algorithms are defined and come in handy, while addressing the framework in less detail (more details are focused on the algorithms, making the scope of paper really large already. Only a simple logic procedure of the framework is briefly discussed). The first paper's already submitted in a computer science conference & is under review.

Then after some experiments, I have realized that, the systematic framework I have applied in Paper 1 can be a more generic framework, applying to different scenarios for different application purposes. In this case, the experiment I have in Paper 1 with the advanced algorithms can be seen as a complex extension to this generic framework & the advanced algorithms I have used for paper 1 experiments can be adapted or even simplified to better suit the framework. I have written another Paper 2 discussing this generality aspect of the framework, with the simplified yet slightly different experimental setting as a case study for the framework. A portion of the dataset originally proposed with Paper 1 is used. I have also discussed in depth how the generic framework can be applied for a completely different scenario, but I did not have the case study for it at the moment.

Also, while paper 1's still under review, I have submitted an ArXiv preprint. All similarities in paper 2 compared to paper 1 are properly cited, noted and discussed if necessary, when writing paper 2.

So the question is, is it OK to have this paper 2 submitted to another conference (an automation conference vs. the previous cs one) for review? Is paper 2 considered to be an "unethical salami slicing"?

Thank you!

  • Others have given good answers already, I'll add: You could combine paper 1 with paper 2 and submit to a journal, rather than submitting paper 1 to a conference. – user2768 Apr 2 at 14:19
  • If it were in general unethical, there would be many fewer papers (how do you know something is completely 'finished'?). There is theory and application, growth of a new material and uses of a new material, initial results and final full results. There are always additional side alleys to go down if you want to (and have the time). There are papers targeting different audiences around a topic. – Jon Custer Apr 2 at 14:52
  • Thanks for the comments here, almost missed them. Journal definitely is an option I'm considering. – spartan_strike36 Apr 3 at 0:35
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Is it unethical writing two papers addressing two aspects of the same research project

Not necessarily. However, the following would be unethical:

  • Submitting two papers with any overlapping material without one citing the other and explaining the parts that overlap (giving credit to where the idea was originally proposed)

  • Submitting essentially the same idea to two different venues at the same time (farming to see if one of them gets accepted)

  • Submitting two papers with exactly the same idea, but making it sound like they are two different ideas

Basically the rule of thumb here is: be honest. It is fine to split an idea across multiple papers; my advisor has suggested doing this a few times, and it's worked out well. But if you are doing anything to mislead the reviewers, then you have a problem of misconduct.

I have realized that, the systematic framework I have applied in Paper 1 can be a more generic framework, applying to different scenarios for different application purposes...I have written another Paper 2 discussing this generality aspect of the framework, with the simplified yet slightly different experimental setting as a case study for the framework.

Congratulations on this realization! This sounds like a significant advancement over your Paper 1, and it constitutes research progress. So there is no ethical issue with writing the second paper.

Also, while paper 1's still under review, I have submitted an ArXiv preprint. All similarities in paper 2 compared to paper 1 are properly cited, noted and discussed if necessary, when writing paper 2.

Great! It sounds like you have already taken the right steps here.

So the question is, is it OK to have this paper 2 submitted to another conference (an automation conference vs. the previous cs one) for review? Is paper 2 considered to be an "unethical salami slicing"?

It is OK, since you have cited paper 1 and made it clear this builds on it. Now, it is up to the reviewers to decide whether it is too much overlap to be novel. You may find that the reviewers love the idea, or maybe they will say it's not clear to them how it is an advancement over paper 1. Either way, it is perfectly ethical to submit and see what they think, assuming you have been honest and professional.


For comparison, here are some examples of ethical behavior (roughly taken from experience):

  • We have a new idea, which we write up in Paper A and submit as an invited contribution. At the same time, we are working on an application that uses the idea from A, and in order to make the paper self-contained we need to explain some things about that idea. We write Paper B which applies the idea, and we put Paper A on arXiv and cite it in Paper B. Paper B has a section on the new idea and explains clearly that this idea was originally proposed in Paper A.

  • We have a paper which is too long and needs better motivation, so we decide to split it into two papers instead as part of the paper is not really helping the reviewers like it anyway. We write Paper A which basically contains the bulk of the original paper minus one section which studies a particular theoretical aspect. Then we write Paper B which studies the theoretical aspect. We rephrase Paper B to only contain the parts that were specific to that aspect, and remove parts related to Paper A, so that the papers no longer have any overlap.

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    Thank you for your detailed reply. Those are indeed helpful examples. – spartan_strike36 Apr 3 at 0:32
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I'll guess that you are fine submitting the second paper, but I haven't seen them both.

But you can do a thought experiment and come to a better understanding and decision for yourself.

Imagine that the second paper has an author or list of authors not containing yourself: that it was written by others. What would your reaction be if you were a reviewer of that second paper. Does this paper stand on its own or is it a trivial extension/variation of the first paper? If an honest review suggest that this is sufficiently novel or distinguishable from the first then it is fine to publish - assuming quality, of course.

There are lots of things in research that depend on the same basis, such as a model created for one purpose with implications elsewhere. At one extreme, when CERN runs a giant experiment on the collider if there were only one paper produced it would need to be thousands of pages long to include even the implications noticed at the time. You aren't at that scale, of course, but your framework is sufficiently complex that it would be hard or impossible to completely explore it in a single paper of reasonable length. And the variations possible also imply that the different aspects should be meaningful to different subsets of the scientific community.

And, of course, the actual reviewers of the second paper will make a judgement.

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  • Thanks for the reply. Speaking of extreme, another thing about algorithms in Paper 1 is like, it actually limits the experiment in a really specific scenario, which actually hurts the generality of the framework. Generally speaking, generic framework in fact allows scenario 1 and 2. I have discussed scenario 1 in detail thanks to the algorithms I proposed. While algorithms have a good performance, using the algorithms from paper 1 will not make sense in scenario 2 without adaptation, and I discussed this fact in detail in Paper 2. Still you're right reviewers will make their own judgement. – spartan_strike36 Apr 2 at 11:47
  • Receiving message, "Thanks for the feedback! Votes cast by those with less than 15 reputation are recorded, but do not change the publicly displayed post score." Probably gonna try another time. – spartan_strike36 Apr 2 at 11:56

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