Is there such a thing as "Least Publishable Unit"? An empirical investigation

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Objective. Scientists are afflicted by what has been anecdotally referred to as the phenomenon of "Least Publishable Unit" (LPU). This project is an effort at empirical analysis of the phenomenon. Method. Three months of the journals JAMA and the New England Journal of Medicine were analyzed to identify work that has been funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Next, the database Medline was searched to discover the total number of publications by each researcher and the publications that acknowledge the single specified funding source (the grant mentioned in the journals). Results. Biomedical researchers who published in JAMA and the New England Journal of Medicine were found to have a substantial number of publications from 2010 through 2013. Those publications are indicative of a huge literature that has to be searched in order to find work relevant to information seekers' needs. Moreover, each researcher has several publications stemming from work funded by a single NIH grant. Contribution. The implications of this research for libraries are primarily the explosion of content and the potential duplication of publications.

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