This is an ideal and not infrequent situation where two groups become aware of similar work and wish to “co-disclose” or “co-publish” together to obtain a similar time stamp.
Preprints: This situation is very easy to navigate with preprints, since the disclosure is under the control of the scientists. The groups simply have to agree upon a date when they will submit to a preprint server. The coordinated submissions then receive the same time stamp and are made available to the scientific community concurrently. There are no hassles and no unpredictability.
Journals: The same outcome can be achieved with journals, but with greater difficulty and uncertainty, since:
- The different scientific groups may decide to submit to different journals, based upon journal preference or likelihood of being accepted. Coordination the timing of publication date between two or more journals is possible but often becomes difficult. Generally, one journal must be pressured to speed up its publication pipeline for fear of being second.
- If submitted to the same journal, the journal may ultimately decide to only accept one of multiple submissions given demands for journal space.
- The referee process can be unpredictable in the same or different journals, making it difficult or impossible to coordinate timing. One paper might also get rejected at the very end of the pipeline.