Least Publishable Unit

Publish or perish

In academic publishing, the least publishable unit (LPU), colloquially ‘publon’ – the smallest measurable quantum of publication, is the minimum amount of information that can generate a publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The term is often used as a joking, ironic, or sometimes derogatory reference to the strategy of pursuing the greatest quantity of publications at the expense of their quality. Publication of the results of research is an essential part of science. The number of publications is sometimes used to assess the work of a scientist and as a basis for distributing research funds. In order to achieve a high rank in such an assessment, there is a trend to split up research results into smaller parts that are published separately, thus increasing the number of publications.

‘Salami publication’ or ‘salami slicing’ is a variant of the smallest-publishable-unit strategy. In salami slicing, data gathered by one research project is separately reported (wholly or in part) in multiple end publications. Salami slicing, apparently named by analogy with the thin slices made from larger pieces of salami meat, is generally considered questionable when not explicitly labeled, as it may lead to the same data being counted multiple times as apparently independent results in aggregate studies.

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