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Feb 16, 2012

Plagirism - The Threat to Quality

There were more reports of plagiarism in 2011 than in any year prior. The level of plagiarism found was also more severe, with full papers having been copied word-for-word, submitted, and in one case published by a conference. The increase in the number and severity of plagiarism cases is a serious threat to the quality of SPS’s conferences and IEEE Xplore®.

We can explain why plagiarism is on the rise by examining the main reasons authors plagiarize.

It's Easy - Authors plagiarize because it is easy, with the growing amount of content on the Internet it is relatively easy to steal other’s works.

They Think They Won't Get Caught - Authors believe that there is so much content out there that they won't be caught if they borrow some.

To Make More Money - Authors plagiarize because there is a financial incentive to publish. An author applying for a grant who has published is more likely to receive the grant if he/she has published. In some cases there is a financial bonus given to scientists who publish.

Consequently a greater number of authors choose to plagiarize. This in turn means that more plagiarized papers are going to be submitted to conferences. And more conference papers will be plagiarized. A plagiarized paper should not be disregarded and merely rejected. The authors of the allegedly offending paper needs to be brought forward and dealt with properly. As it says in the IEEE Policy, “Plagiarism in any form is unacceptable and is considered a serious breach of professional conduct, with potentially severe ethical and legal consequences.”

IEEE has the reputation and vast amount of material that makes it the ideal target for plagiarized work. As a result, the Intellectual Property Rights office at IEEE has established a procedure for handling allegations of plagiarism to make sure that all cases are handled justly and equally.

If you suspect plagiarism in a submitted conference paper, contact the Technical Program Chair (TPC). The Technical Program Chair should notify the VP-Conferences, Wan-Chi Siu and the Manager Conference Services, Lisa Schwarzbek. Lisa will notify the IEEE IPR office with a copy to the VP-Conferences and the Technical Program Chair. Once the notifications are complete, the TPC will form an ad hoc committee of three or four trusted members who are qualified to evaluate the accused work.

The committee will:

  1. Issue a notice to the offending author (if you prefer to have Lisa do this that is acceptable). The IPR office has a standard letter that should be used. The committee will receive the authors’ responses and evaluate the responses.
  2. Review the complaint, read both the original work and the accused work.
  3. Assign misconduct level – see list on page 6.
  4. Recommend corrective action with the advice of the VP-Conferences and the IPR office
  5. Report to the VP-Conferences along the way making sure he is aware of how the case is progressing and the ultimate conclusion. The next steps depend upon the level of misconduct that is assigned. The entire process will be directed by the IPR office with guidance from the VP-Conferences.

Levels of Plagiarism
Acts of plagiarism are categorized into five level, or degrees, of misconduct, ranging from the most serious (Level One) to the least serious (Level Five).
Level One: The uncredited verbatim copying of a full paper, or the verbatim copying of a major portion (greater than half of the original paper)
Level Two: The uncredited verbatim copying of a large portion (less than half of the original paper).
Level Three: The uncredited verbatim copying of individual elements (e.g., paragraphs, sentences, figures)
Level Four: The uncredited improper paraphrasing of pages or paragraphs
Level Five: The credited verbatim copying of a major portion of a paper without clear delineation (e.g., quotes or indents)