IEEE Guidelines for Handling Plagiarism
    PSPB Approves New Guidelines for Handling Plagiarism Complaints

With so much research now available on the Web, and because the highly searchable nature of electronic content has made it easier to detect unacknowledged copying of original text, the number of reported incidents of alleged plagiarism has been growing. The PSPB Operations Manual now provides helpful and detailed guidelines for identifying and handling instances of plagiarism.

On 18 June 2004, the IEEE Publications Products and Services Board approved new policies and procedures on plagiarism. Specifically, section “8.2 Publication Guidelines” of the PSPB Operations Manual now contains a major new section entitled “Guidelines for Adjudicating Different Levels of Plagiarism.” The purpose of this new section is to define 1) plagiarism, 2) five levels or degrees of plagiarism and 3) appropriate corrective actions that correspond to each level of misconduct.

IEEE defines plagiarism as the reuse of someone else’s prior ideas, processes, results, or words without explicitly acknowledging the original author and source. It is important for all IEEE authors to recognize that plagiarism in any form, at any level, is unacceptable and is considered a serious breach of professional conduct, with potentially severe ethical and legal consequences.

Equally important to the process of recognizing an act of plagiarism is clarifying who shall be responsible for responding to any complaints of alleged plagiarism. The new guidelines specify that the person responsible for the IEEE publication (referred to generally as “the editor”), shall be responsible for conducting an investigation and determining if plagiarism has in fact taken place. In order to accomplish this critical task, the editor shall also appoint an independent committee of experts in the topic to help make a recommendation on the allegation. Emphasis is placed on the “independence” of the committee, in that the editor cannot be directly involved with the committee’s investigation.

Of particular note are the new guidelines for cases involving papers from IEEE conference proceedings. Allegations of misconduct by authors of papers in conference proceedings shall be investigated by the conference publication chair, or by the Publication Officer of the IEEE organizational unit that sponsored the conference if the allegation is made after the publication of the proceedings.

Editors must also bring these efforts to the attention of the Vice President of the Publications Services and Products Board, both at the beginning of an investigation and after findings have been reached for final approval.

In addition, the new guidelines describe procedures for proper referencing of previously published material.

An official, updated version of the
PSPB Operations Manual is now available at

The new plagiarism guidelines appear in section 8.2 Publication Guidelines.

For more information, please contact

Bill Hagen, Manager
IEEE Intellectual Property Rights
445 Hoes Lane
Piscataway, NJ 08855
(732) 562-3966