ACM Policy on Plagiarism, Misrepresentation, and Falsification

Approved by the ACM Publications Board on May 24, 2019

Executive Summary

ACM seeks to serve readers' and authors' interests by publishing high-quality original works, including journal articles, audio and video content, web postings, technical reports, conference articles, books, and other forms of scholarly and professional information.

ACM is dedicated to serving the global computing and information technology community by promoting the highest professional and ethical standards. Maintaining the integrity of published Works, defending authors against plagiarism and other forms of ethical violation, making these works discoverable, promoting the dissemination of these Works to the greatest possible readership, and preserving these Works indefinitely in their original published form are among our fundamental principles.

This document provides a detailed definition of plagiarism in its various forms, as well as other dishonest behavior including misrepresentation of authorship and the falsification of content in ACM Publications. It also describes:

  • the possible penalties and ramifications if it is determined that a violation has taken place;
  • how to report a potential violation;
  • how suspected plagiarism, misrepresentation, and/or falsification under this policy is reported;
  • how an allegation of plagiarism, misrepresentation, and/or falsification is investigated;
  • how to appeal a decision under this policy;
  • how and where to pose questions or ask for variations of this policy.

This policy applies to all authors and creators of items submitted for publication or published by ACM.

Introduction

ACM is a major publisher of scholarly and technological materials. These materials include journals, magazines, online materials, collections of data, conference and workshop proceedings, awards, images and movies, and other content of professional interest. Respecting intellectual property and honesty in publication are central to the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, especially 1.3, "Be honest and trustworthy"; 1.5, "Respect the work required to produce new ideas, inventions, creative works, and computing artifacts"; 2.1, "Strive to achieve high quality in both the processes and products of professional work"; 2.2, "Maintain high standards of professional competence, conduct, and ethical practice"; 2.3, and "Know and respect existing rules pertaining to professional work."

ACM Publications are viewed as premier outlets for scientific and professional publishing, whose results may have critical impacts on public safety, public policy, and future scientific research. ACM is committed to preventing and addressing any accusations of Dishonest Publication-plagiarism, redundant publication (self-plagiarism), author misrepresentation, and content falsification-in ACM Publications. This Policy addresses these concerns.

Depending on the form, intentionality, and severity of a proven violation, a range of potential penalties may be levied against violators of this Policy, including but not limited to article retraction, bans on future submissions to or involvement with ACM publications, conferences, workshops, or symposia, and communication by ACM to the violator's employer. Significant violations may also be referred to ACM's Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE) for additional sanctions.

All authors, editors, reviewers, and contributors to ACM Publications agree to be bound by this policy as a condition of participating in an ACM publication.

Definitions and Terms

Plagiarism

ACM defines plagiarism as the misrepresentation of another's writings or other creative work (including unpublished and published documents, data, research proposals, computer code, or other forms of creative expression, including electronic versions) as one's own. Plagiarism is a clear violation of ACM Publications Policy and a potential violation of the ACM Code of Ethics. Plagiarism may also represent copyright infringement . Plagiarism manifests itself in a variety of forms, including:

  • verbatim copying, near-verbatim copying, or intentionally paraphrasing portions of another's work;
  • copying elements of another's work, such as equations, tables, charts, illustrations, presentation, or photographs that are not common knowledge, or copying or intentionally paraphrasing sentences without proper or complete source citation;
  • verbatim copying of portions of another's work with incorrect source citation

Note that whether a prior Work has been formally published is not a factor in determining plagiarism; a Work not formally published may be plagiarized. This includes content provided online in preprints, tutorials, manuals, and essays, as well as offline content in any form. The representation of any other person's material as one's own Work is plagiarism.

Redundant Publication or Self-Plagiarism

In addition to Plagiarism, ACM also considers redundant publication or self-plagiarism a serious violation of ACM Publications Policy. Self-plagiarism is defined as the verbatim or near-verbatim reuse of significant portions of one's own published work without citing the original source. Note that self-plagiarism does not apply to publications based on the author's own previously published work (e.g., appearing in a journal or conference proceedings) if an explicit and appropriate reference is made to that prior publication. Works submitted to ACM based on the author's own previously published material must be disclosed at the time of submission and an explicit reference to the prior publication must be included in the submitted Work. Such reuse does not require quotation marks to delineate the reused material but does require that the source be appropriately cited. (For more details see the Policy on Prior Publication and Simultaneous Submissions.)

Author Misrepresentation

In addition to plagiarism, author misrepresentation is a serious ethics violation and a violation of this Policy. Author misrepresentation occurs when an author of a work inappropriately credits the authors of a Work. One form of author misrepresentation is the listing of authors who did not participate in a meaningful way in the preparation of the Work. Another form of misrepresentation would be omitting the names of authors who did participate in a meaningful way in the creation of the Work without their knowledge and/or against their will.

A clear definition of authorship is required to enable determination if an author misrepresentation has taken place. ACM defines authorship as meeting all four of the following criteria:

  • all authors must have made substantial intellectual contributions to some components of the original work; and
  • all authors have participated in a meaningful way in the drafting and/or revision of the work; and
  • all authors are aware that the work has been submitted for publication; and
  • all authors understand that they will be held equally accountable for any issues relating to the correctness or integrity of the work, including any potential ethical violations

Note especially the last of those four points.

Content Falsification

Content falsification is any form of intentional misrepresentation of results, supporting materials, or references. Each of these acts is dishonest, strictly prohibited by the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, and by generally accepted scientific principles.

Content falsification has taken place when a Work contains material that was known by one or more of the authors to be false or untrue at the time the Work was submitted for consideration of publication. This includes instances where citations are manufactured or used without actual relevance to the content of the Work; data that has been synthesized, adjusted, padded, or trimmed without the specific details of those modifications described in the Work; synthesized or altered outputs portrayed as actual and without specific details of the alterations included in the Work; and any presentations or claims that are known to be false, but are presented in a manner that would lead the reader to believe they are true and correct.

Additional Terms
Additional terms used in this document are defined as follows:

  • "Work" refers to either:
    • published materials, editorials, or "works for hire" where ACM is the publisher; or
    • unpublished materials submitted to an ACM venue, such as a magazine, journal, conference, or book
  • In either case, the Work may include a Work and its associated artifacts; artifacts include, but are not limited to, code, data, images, and videos.
  • "Editor" encompasses Editor(s), or Program Chair(s), or other individuals with the authority to accept papers on behalf of the publication.
  • "Venue" refers to any ACM publication including at least journals, magazines, newsletters, and conference proceedings

Submitting and Investigating Claims

See Submitting and Investigating Claims

Communicating Results of Investigations

See Communicating Results of Investigations Policy

Confidentiality

See Confidentiality Policy 

Appeals

See Appeals Policy.

Penalties

Penalties for proven allegations of plagiarism, misrepresentation, or falsification may be minor to severe, depending on the circumstances. 

See Penalties for Publication Violations

Report a Potential Violation

Please use the online form to report incidents related to the ACM Policy on Plagiarism, Misrepresentation, and Falsification

Contact ACM

The ACM Director of Publications should be contacted for any:

  • Questions about the interpretation of this policy
  • Questions about appeals of decisions
  • Requests for deviations from, or extensions to, this policy
  • Reporting of egregious behavior related to this policy, including purposeful evasion of the policy or false reporting

Mailing address:
ACM Director of Publications
Association for Computing Machinery
1601 Broadway, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10019-7434
Phone: +1-212-626-0659
Or via email:
scott.delman@hq.acm.org

Questions, Deviations, and Reporting Violations

ACM's Publications Board Ethics and Plagiarism Committee

The ACM Publications Board’s Ethics & Plagiarism Committee places the investigation of each claim of plagiarism at the highest priority for resolution and action. The basics are outlined here, and specific details of all aspects of reporting and investigating claims, and penalties for plagiarism are found here.

Report a Potential Violation

If you believe one or more of ACM’s Publications Policies have been violated and you have credible evidence of such violation(s), you may report a potential violation as a claimant. Before you report a potential violation, please read ACM’s Publications Policies carefully.

ACM Policies on Authorship

Anyone listed as Author on an ACM paper must meet certain criteria, including making substantial intellectual contributions to some components of the original work and drafting and/or revising the paper.

Authors submitting papers for peer-review to ACM publications will represent that the paper submitted is original; that the work submitted is not currently under review at any other publication venue; that they have the rights and intent to publish the work in the venue to which it is submitted; and that any prior publications on which this work is based are documented appropriately. 

Read the entire set of criteria in the Policy on Roles and Responsibilities in ACM Publishing.