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8.2.4 Allegations of Misconduct

A. HANDLING COMPLAINTS

1. During the handling of a complaint, the contents of the complaint, identity of the persons involved and the scope of the inquiry shall remain confidential to the extent practicable, consistent with the need for information and expeditious review.
 

2. In handling a case of alleged plagiarism, the person responsible for that publication (e.g., editor, organizational-unit officer, etc.) should request the following basic information from the complainant on:

a. The original article:

1) Title of article
2) Full list of author names
3) Publication or information title in which original article appeared

b. The use of someone else’s unpublished ideas:

1) Title of idea
2) Full list of creators
3) Verifiable date of creation

c. The alleged plagiarized article:

1) Title of article
2) Full list of author names
3) Publication or information title in which the original article appeared

d. Copies of both articles or, if appropriate, documentation of an idea and the subsequent article, preferably with highlighted text showing all instances of inappropriate reuse

e. Full name and address of complainant.

3. If a complaint is received concerning the accuracy or completeness of a article published in an IEEE publication, the person responsible for that publication shall investigate the complaint. If it is ascertained that the complaint stems from differences in opinion, the responsible person shall dismiss the complaint and notify the complainant of the conclusion. The responsible person may also recommend that the complainant prepare and submit a rebuttal for publication.

4. If a complaint is received against an editor, associate editor, or reviewer of an IEEE publication, one of the following steps applies depending on the complaint.

a. If the complaint concerns the editor’s judgment in the rejection of an article, then the author shall be informed that the editor has final decision-making authority over such matters.

b. If the complaint is against an associate editor or reviewer, the editor shall evaluate the merits of the complaint, determine the appropriate course of action in accordance with established policies, and respond to the author.

c. If the complaint involves an allegation of bias on the part of the editor, then the author may appeal directly to the designee of the organizational unit responsible for the publication (such as the Vice President of Publications, the Chair of the Publications Committee, etc.). If such a position does not exist, the complaint should be made to the PSPB Chair who shall then investigate the allegation in accordance with Section 8.2.3. In this case, upon completion of the investigation, the PSPB Chair’s findings shall be sent to the editor as well as the responsible person(s) for the sponsoring IEEE organizational unit(s). The decision of the PSPB Chair shall be final and not subject to further appeal.

d. If the complaint is against an editor or associate editor for violation of the principle regarding the publication’s bibliometric independent measures as specified in Section 8.2.1.D.4, then the complaint should be made directly to the PSPB Chair who shall then investigate the allegation. In this case, upon completion of the investigation, the PSPB Chair’s findings shall be sent to the editor as well as the responsible person(s) for the sponsoring IEEE organizational unit(s). The decision of the PSPB Chair shall be final and not subject to appeal.

B. INVESTIGATING POSSIBLE AUTHOR MISCONDUCT

1. If the person responsible for an IEEE publication learns that an author may have acted improperly, which may include but is not limited to misrepresenting data, plagiarizing text, or not informing the editor that an article had been published, accepted for publication, or concurrently under review by another publication, then the responsible person shall investigate the alleged misconduct. All inquiries shall be handled promptly and fairly. To the extent possible, all parties relevant to the allegation shall be contacted at the start of the investigation and given the opportunity to respond.

2. The responsible person will notify the IEEE Staff Executive - Publications or that person’s designee that an inquiry has been undertaken. The purpose of this notification is to provide information and a record. The Office of the IEEE Staff Executive - Publications will inform the PSPB Chair about the inquiry.

3. In considering the allegation, the responsible person shall appoint an independent ad-hoc committee of experts in the topic to confidentially investigate and make a recommendation on the allegation to the responsible person. In addition to the material supplied by the editor, the ad-hoc committee may seek other sources of relevant information, such as the IEEE Intellectual Property Rights Office. However, the ad-hoc committee shall not contact the institution where the work was performed unless it has explicit information that such institution has already investigated the issue.

C. CORRECTIVE ACTIONS FOR AUTHOR MISCONDUCT

1. If a finding of misconduct relevant to an IEEE publication (data misrepresentation/fabrication, plagiarism, multiple submission, or prior publication, etc.) is made by the person responsible for the IEEE publication, then appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary actions shall be initiated.

2. For all cases involving alleged plagiarism or the multiple submission/publication of the same article, the responsible person shall inform the PSPB Chair of the investigating committee’s conclusions or recommend action(s) to the PSPB Chair in accordance with Section 8.2.4.D “Guidelines for Adjudicating Different Levels of Plagiarism” and Section 8.2.4.F “Guidelines for Adjudicating Prior Publication, Multiple Submission, and Reuse of Previous Publications.” For cases where a decision by the PSPB Chair is not required, and no sooner than 30 days and no later than 90 days after the responsible person informs the author(s) about the allegation, the responsible person shall notify the author(s) and the IEEE Intellectual Property Rights Office in writing of the editor’s final decision.

3. Except for cases involving allegations of plagiarism or multiple submission/publication (see Sections 8.2.4.D and 8.2.4.F below for more specific information), the PSPB Chair shall notify the individual(s) named in the responsible person’s recommendation that an action is being reviewed. The PSPB Chair shall offer the named individual(s) the opportunity to respond within 30 days to the recommended action, and the Chair may choose to request additional information from the editor and/or the named individual(s).

4. When a decision by the PSPB Chair is required, and no sooner than 30 days and no later than 90 days after notifying the individual(s) named in the editor’s recommendation, the PSPB Chair will issue a final determination of corrective action(s) to be taken and notify the author and the responsible person of the decision. The decision of the PSPB Chair is final and not subject to further appeal within the process and guidelines specified by Section 8.2.4.

D. GUIDELINES FOR ADJUDICATING DIFFERENT LEVELS OF PLAGIARISM.

The following guidelines require or recommend appropriate corrective actions to be taken by editors of IEEE publications for each of five defined levels (or degrees) of plagiarism. Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, (a) uncredited copying of someone else’s work, (b) using someone else’s material without clear delineation or citation, and (c) uncited reuse of an author’s previously published work that also involves other authors. Guidelines for referencing of other peoples’ work are covered in Section 8.2.10. It should be noted that plagiarism is a type of copyright infringement, and as such may also subject the author(s) to legal liability. These Guidelines apply to all articles at any point in the publication process, from initial submission to final publication. The following corrective actions must be taken, absent special circumstances that provide good cause for varying some or all of the specified measures. Such special circumstances must be identified in writing to, and the variation approved by, the PSPB Chair.

Proposed corrective actions related to level 1 or 2 of the following shall be approved by the PSPB Chair. Furthermore, a number of the corrective actions below either require or allow notice of the offense to be placed in the IEEE electronic database and/or in the relevant publication.

1. Uncredited Verbatim Copying of a Full Article. [The most extreme case of plagiarism is when a full article is copied and any name of the original author list is replaced with another person.], or Uncredited Verbatim Copying of a Major Portion (more than 50%) within a Single Article. [An instance is where a large section of the original article is copied without quotation marks, credit notice, reference, and bibliography. This case also includes instances where different portions of a article are copied without attribution from a number of articles by other authors, and the sum of plagiarized material is more 50%.], or Uncredited Verbatim Copying within More than a Single Article by the Same Author(s). [This case includes instances where more than one article by the offending author(s) has been found to contain plagiarized content, and all the percentages of plagiarized material in each of the discovered articles sum to greater than 50%.

a. Corrective actions to be taken for level-1 violations involving only one article are:

1) Publication of a notice of violation of Publication Principles, as specified in Section 8.2.4.E, in the IEEE electronic database as part of the article’s bibliographic record

2) Publication of a notice of violation of Publication Principles, as specified in Section 8.2.4.E, in the appropriate IEEE publication where the author(s) and the specific article have been found to be in violation of IEEE Principles against plagiarism

3) Prohibition of publication in all IEEE-copyrighted publications by the offending individual(s) for three to five years as determined by PSPB Chair

4) Rejection and return of all articles by the author(s) that are currently in review or in any IEEE publication queue (articles may be re-submitted after prohibition term has expired).

b. Recommended corrective actions for level-1 violations involving only one article may also include the following:

1) Offending individual(s) prepare and submit an apology to the plagiarized author(s) and publication editor(s).

2) Publication of the offending author’s apology.

c. If the action recommended by Section 8.2.4.D.1.b.(1) is taken, and the offending individual(s) fail to apologize in writing, the following corrective action shall be taken:

1) The duration of the prohibition of publication in all IEEE-copyrighted publications specified by Section 8.2.4.D.1.a.(3) shall be increased by one or two years as determined by PSPB Chair.

d. Corrective actions for level-1 uncredited verbatim copying within more than one article by the offending author(s) shall include the following.

1) For instances where all the percentages of plagiarized material in each of the discovered articles sum to greater than 50%, corrective actions shall follow the guidelines in Sections 8.2.4.1.a through 8.2.4.1.c, noting that different authors and multiple editors might be involved.

2) For instances where percentages of plagiarized material in one or more of the discovered articles is greater than 50%, corrective actions shall be assigned to each offense following the guidelines in Sections 8.2.4.1.a through 8.2.4.1.c, and the PSPB Chair has the discretion of applying any combination of the assigned corrective actions that the Chair considers appropriate.

e. A repetitive level-1 misconduct by authors previously found guilty of level-1 offense shall result in an increase by one or two years of the duration of suspension of publication privileges specified by Section 8.2.4.D.1.a.(3) as determined by PSPB Chair. For multiple repetitive level-1 misconducts, the PSPB Chair can administer up to and including a lifetime prohibition of publication in all IEEE-copyrighted publications.

2. Uncredited Verbatim Copying of a Large Portion (greater than 20% and up to 50%) within a Article. [An instance is where a section of the original article is copied from another article without quotation marks, credit notice, reference, and bibliography. This case also includes instances where different portions of a article are copied without attribution from a number of articles by other authors, and the sum of copying results in a large portion of plagiarized material (up to 50%) in the article.], or Uncredited Verbatim Copying within More than One Article by the Same Author(s). [This case includes instances where the sum of plagiarized material from the different articles would constitute the equivalent of a large portion (greater than 20% and up to 50%) of the discovered article with the fewest words.]

a. In this case corrective actions that must be taken are:

1) Publication of a notice of violation of Publication Principles, as specified in Section 8.2.4.E, in the IEEE electronic database as part of the article’s bibliographic record

2) Publication of a notice of violation of Publication Principles, as specified in Section 8.2.4.E, in the appropriate IEEE publication where the author(s) and the specific article have been found to be in violation of IEEE Principles against plagiarism

3) Prohibition of publication in all IEEE-copyrighted publications by the offending individual(s) for one to three years as determined by the organizational unit’s publications officer

4) Rejection and return of all articles by the author(s) that are currently in review or in any IEEE publication queue (articles may be re-submitted after prohibition term has expired).

b. Recommended corrective actions for uncredited verbatim copying of large portions of articles may also include the following:

1) Offending individual(s) prepare and submit an apology to the plagiarized author(s) and publication editor

2) Publication of the offending author’s apology.

c. If the corrective action recommended by Section 8.2.4.D.2.b.(1) is taken, and the offending individual(s) fail to apologize in writing, the following corrective action shall be taken:

1) The duration of the prohibition of publication in all IEEE-copyrighted publications specified by Section 8.2.4.D.2.a.(3) shall be increased by one or two years as determined by the organizational unit’s publications officer.

d. Level-2 uncredited verbatim copying within more than single article by the offending author(s) is equivalent to a level-1 offense, and corrective actions shall follow the guidelines in Sections 8.2.4.1.a through 8.2.4.1.c, noting that different authors and multiple editors might be involved.

e. A repetitive level-2 misconduct by authors previously found guilty of level-1 or level-2 offense shall result in an increase by one or two years of the duration of suspension of publication privileges specified by Section 8.2.4.D.2.a.(3) as determined by PSPB Chair. Sequential instances of level-2 plagiarism will be determined using the same definition specified in Section 8.2.4.D.1.

d.(2). For multiple repetitive level-2 misconducts, the PSPB Chair can administer up to and including a lifetime prohibition of publication in all IEEE-copyrighted publications.

3. Uncredited Verbatim Copying of Individual Elements (Paragraph(s), Sentence(s), Illustration(s), etc.) Resulting in a Significant Portion (up to 20%) within a Article. [An instance could be where portions of original article are used in another article without quotation marks, credit notice, reference, and bibliography.]

a. In this case corrective actions that shall be taken are:

1) Offending individual(s) prepare and submit an apology to the plagiarized author(s) and to the editor of the publication where the plagiarized work was submitted.

2) Publication of a notice of violation of Publication Principles, as specified in Section 8.2.4.E, in the IEEE electronic database as part of the article’s bibliographic record.

b. If the offending individual(s) fail to apologize in writing, the following corrective actions shall be taken:

1) Prohibition of publication in the IEEE publication where the offense took place by the offending individual(s) for the next one or two years of the publication or, if appropriate, the next one or two volumes of the conference proceedings, as determined by the editor

2) Rejection and return of all articles for that publication by the author(s) that are currently in review or the queue for that publication (articles may be re-submitted after prohibition term has expired).

c. The following action may also be taken:

1) Publication of the offending author’s apology.

d. Repeated offenses for uncredited verbatim copying of individual elements of articles shall result in suspension of publication privileges in any IEEE Publications for one year and suspension of all articles by the author(s) that are currently in review or in any IEEE publication’s queue.

4. Uncredited Improper Paraphrasing of Pages or Paragraphs. [Instances of improper paraphrasing occur when only a few words and phrases have been changed or when the original sentence order has been rearranged; no credit notice or reference appears with the text.]

a. In this case corrective actions that shall be taken are:

1) Offending individual(s) prepare and submit an apology to the plagiarized author(s) and publication editor.

2) Publication of a notice of violation of Publication Principles, as specified in Section 8.2.4.E, in the IEEE electronic database as part of the article’s bibliographic record.

b. If the offending individual(s) fail to carry out the above actions, the following corrective actions shall be taken: 1) Prohibition of publication in the IEEE publication where the offense took place by the offending individual(s) for one year of the publication or, if appropriate, the next volume of the conference proceedings.

c. The following action may also be taken:

1) Publication of the offending author’s apology.

d. Repeated offenses for uncredited improper paraphrasing shall result in suspension of publication privileges in all IEEE Publications for one year and rejection and return of all articles by the author(s) that are currently in review or in any IEEE publication’s queue (articles may be resubmitted after prohibition term has expired).

5. Credited Verbatim Copying of a Major Portion of an Article without Clear Delineation. [Instances could include sections of an original article copied from another article; credit notice is used but absence of quotation marks or offset text does not clearly reference or identify the specific, copied material.]

a. In this case corrective actions that shall be taken are:

1) Offending individual(s) prepare and submit an apology to the original author(s) and publication editor

2) Offending individual(s) prepare correction or retraction and submit this document to the editor for publication.

b. If the offending individual(s) fail to carry out the above actions, the following corrective actions shall be taken:

1) Prohibition of publication in the IEEE publication where the offense took place by the offending individual(s) for one year of the publication or, if appropriate, the next volume of the conference proceedings.

c. The following action may also be taken:

1) Publication of a notice of violation of Publication Principles, as specified in Section 8.2.4.E, in the IEEE electronic database as part of the article’s bibliographic record.

d. Repeated offenses for improper credited verbatim use shall result in suspension of publication privileges in all IEEE Publications for one year and rejection and return of all articles by the author(s) that are currently in review or in any IEEE publication’s queue (articles may be resubmitted after prohibition term has expired). (See also IEEE Policies, Section 7.11 – Procedures for Member Conduct Complaints.)