ACM Process for Filing, Investigating, Communicating Results, and Appealing Claims

Filing a Claim

Any individual is entitled to make a formal claim that a violation of a policy has occurred. It is not necessary for a claimant to have any formal relationship (e.g., author, reviewer, program committee member) to the Work that is claimed to be in violation of ACM Publications Policy, nor is it required that the claimant be a member of ACM; however, it is necessary that the claim involves an ACM Work.

Any individuals submitting a formal claim that a violation has occurred must:

  • identify themselves (i.e., anonymous reports are not considered),
  • indicate whether there is or is not a formal relationship to the Work (e.g., author of violated work, reviewer, or editor of violating Work),
  • provide a detailed written description of the claim, and
  • provide detailed evidence supporting the claim

ACM encourages the submission of the following additional information to aid in its investigation:

  • any other information that would help ACM efficiently to investigate the claim

It is not sufficient for an individual simply to allege to ACM that a potential violation has occurred. ACM will not investigate potential violations without a complete claim being submitted, including substantiating evidence that, in ACMs sole discretion, is sufficient to warrant an official investigation by ACM. Without credible evidence to support claims, ACM will not investigate allegations. ACM does receive frivolous claims on a regular basis and claims that may be legitimate, but are not supported by evidence, making it impossible to come to objective and fact-based decisions. As a result, it is only possible for ACM, including its staff, volunteers, and investigators to investigate claims for which there is a reasonable likelihood of coming to objective fact-based decisions.

Please note that ACM (via the ACM Director of Publications, ACM Publications Board Ethics & Plagiarism Committee, or Conference, Workshop, or Symposia Program Committee Chair(s) or General Chair(s)) will only process claims related to Works submitted and under consideration by ACM Publications or for Works published by ACM. Claims of violations in non-ACM publications should be directed to their publishers. Complaints against ACM members related to items not published by ACM may be referred to ACM's Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE) for possible investigation and action.

Investigating Claims

Provided the minimum information required has been provided in writing, ACM will investigate claims of Publications Policy violations and publications-related ethical misconduct. ACM will take some or all of the steps outlined below based on the circumstances of each individual case. ACM reserves the right to close an active investigation if additional information is requested but not provided by the claimant.

Some or all of the investigation steps to be taken:

  • Upon receipt of a claim that this Policy has been violated, ACM will review the submitted claim and supporting documentation. If any additional documentation is needed ACM will request that documentation from the claimant, who shall provide that documentation to ACM before the formal investigation can proceed.
  • When ACM formally opens an investigation into a claim the Director of Publications will inform appropriate ACM Volunteers and Headquarters Staff. The Director will then coordinate the investigation with the assistance of ACM's Intellectual Property & Rights Manager and in some cases with the assistance of a team of professional investigators retained by ACM to conduct investigations on its behalf. In all cases, the ACM Ethics + Plagiarism Committee and/or the ACM Publications Board will be involved in the decision-making process once formal investigations have been completed.
  • For all submitted but not yet published Conference, Workshop, and Symposium Works, the Program Committee Chair(s) shall take the lead on the investigation and shall notify appropriate parties that a claim has been received and an investigation has been initiated. If the Program Committee Chair(s) are unwilling, unable, or conflicted with the claim, the Conference, Workshop, or Symposium General Chair(s) shall take the lead on the investigation and shall follow the same steps outlined here, as appropriate.
  • A manual review of the materials will be conducted.
  • Only after it has been determined that credible supporting evidence has been provided by the claimant(s), ACM will notify the accused that a claim has been submitted, but will keep the identity of the claimant confidential as outlined by policy. ACM will provide as much supporting documentation as possible to the accused without breaching confidentiality.
  • Accused individuals will only be notified of allegations against them after ACM has determined that allegations are credible, based on the details of the allegation(s) and supporting documention provided by the claimant(s). ACM does receive claims that are not investigated, and accused individuals will not be notified of such claims.
  • Once notified, the accused will be allowed to respond to the claim in a timely manner and provide supporting documentation. The accused's response will inform the next steps to be taken by ACM.
    • If the accused denies the details of the claim ACM will continue to investigate.
    • If the accused admits that the violation occurred and waives the right to appeal ACM's decision, then ACM will move to the penalty phase of the case.
  • A peer review of the claim by the ACM Publications Board Ethics & Plagiarism Committee including one or more subject-matter experts will occur to help ACM evaluate the validity of the claim.
  • Input will be solicited from the Editor-in-Chief (if a journal) or Program Chair (if conference proceedings) and referees of Works at issue.
  • Consulting with ACM legal counsel; and/or
  • Communicating with the individuals involved on both sides to update them on the status of the investigation and to inform both sides of decisions taken by ACM with respect to the claim(s).

Communicating Results of Investigations

Once a decision has been reached in relation to an allegation, that decision will be communicated to all parties immediately by the ACM Director of Publications or by the Program Committee Chair(s) or General Chair(s), as appropriate. Upon notification, the investigative phase will be deemed to have ended, and there will be no further communication with any party by ACM unless there is an appeal to the ACM President.

Once a determination has been reached that decision will be communicated in writing to all affected parties by the ACM Director of Publications. For unpublished ACM Conference, Workshop, and Symposium related Works, the decision will be communicated in writing to all parties by the Program Committee Chair(s) or Conference Chair(s).

In all cases, if a violation has been found, all parties will be informed of the penalties and the actions to be taken.

Upon notification, the investigative phase will be deemed to have ended, and there will be no further communication with any party by ACM unless there is an appeal to the ACM President.

Confidentiality Rights of Stakeholders

All aspects of an investigation are treated with the utmost regard for confidentiality. The names and contacts of the person(s) making a claim and their relationship to the allegation will be kept strictly confidential and used only for the purpose and duration of the investigation.

However, to ensure timely and effective resolution, details of a claim may be circulated to individuals on a need-to-know basis. As part of the investigation, it may be necessary for ACM to contact current and/or past employers of the accused. Additionally, some institutions have specific requirements for their employees to disclose any pending legal/ethical matters. If either the claimant or accused's institutions contact ACM to request information regarding the investigation, it is ACM's policy to disclose that a claim has been received and to indicate whether a formal investigation is ongoing but to restrict the amount of information that is shared at ACM's discretion. If ACM is contacted with an official request to provide evidence, documentation, and/or testimony for a related judicial proceeding, ACM will comply with such a request.

Stakeholders Right of Appeal

All claimants and the accused have the right to appeal official decisions. All appeals must be in writing to the ACM President no more than 30 days from the date of notification, with a copy sent to the ACM Director of Publications. An appeal must contain new material that was not already evaluated by the Committee or substantive information that might lead the ACM President to issue a different decision than the one initially made.

If no appeal has been requested, the decision shall stand and the appropriate penalties shall be implemented.

In the event an appeal has been requested, the ACM President's decision shall be final and once communicated to the parties, the decision shall be carried out with both parties being notified of the final decision.

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