Authorial Integrity Policy
This document is intended as an overview of AMS's policies and procedures related to authorial integrity and integrity of research and data, meaning intellectual honesty and personal responsibility for distinguishing between the work of others and one's own work. These policies apply to all of AMS's publications, including journals, conference proceedings, books, and AMS Notices. They cover materials that are submitted, in review, accepted for publication, or already published in an AMS publication.
AMS considers two specific violations of authorial integrity to be misconduct: plagiarism and duplicate publication (sometimes called "self-plagiarism"). It is the responsibility of every author who submits a book, paper, or article to AMS to avoid plagiarism and duplicate publication. It is the responsibility of editors, referees, and members of book editorial boards to ensure that the highest standards of authorial integrity are maintained.
The AMS Committee on the Profession also includes this statement including ethical guidelines for AMS editors, referees, and authors: http://www.ams.org/about-us/governance/policy-statements/sec-ethics.
The most common form of authorial misconduct is plagiarism, for which there is no single accepted definition. In the context of research proposals, the U.S. National Science Foundation defines plagiarism broadly as "the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit" (45 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 689.1). Material can be plagiarized even if it is publicly available (e.g., posted on the Internet). In scientific publications, plagiarism normally requires a knowing misrepresentation, explicit or implicit, of someone else's work as one's own.
Plagiarism arises in a range of forms that vary widely in ease of identification. The form of plagiarism that is most straightforward to identify involves verbatim or near-verbatim copying, or very close paraphrasing, of text, figures, images, tables, graphs, or results from another's work. The AMS utilizes plagiarism software to highlight potential instances of plagiarism. A report from the service accompanies each paper into peer review for an editor’s examination.
The least clear-cut form of plagiarism (and the subject of the most complaints to AMS) is an inadequacy of relevant citations, i.e., insufficient acknowledgement of the work of other authors. Allegations of this form of plagiarism often arise when authors include or mention results originally obtained by others without citing the associated publications. AMS's assessment of whether an inadequacy of citations constitutes plagiarism will involve questions such as:
- Does the omission of citations give a false or misleading impression that the author is the originator of the relevant results?
- Was the author aware of the work that they omitted to cite?
- Are results in the omitted citations essential to the work presented in the author's paper? Are the results in question regarded as common knowledge in the AMS community?
A related form of authorial misconduct is duplicate publication, meaning unacceptably close replication of the author's own previously published text, figures, images, tables, graphs, or results without acknowledgment of the source. This is sometimes called "self-plagiarism".
AMS applies a "reasonable person" standard when deciding whether a submission constitutes duplicate publication. If a few identical sentences previously published by the current author appear in a subsequent work by the same author, this is unlikely to be regarded as duplicate publication. In contrast, it is unacceptable for an author to include significant verbatim or near-verbatim portions of their own work, or to depict their previously published results as new, without acknowledging the source.
Notify AMS of Any Plagiarism Issue
AMS may receive complaints or allegations of plagiarism from a variety of sources. When discovered in the review process, it is often a referee or editor who first hears of allegations. The purpose of this section is to identify the appropriate people to be notified when any claims of plagiarism or charges of author misconduct are raised.
Any person receiving information about charges of plagiarism or author misconduct should notify the Director of Journal Production who will notify the Associate Executive Director of Publications. The managing editor(s) of of the publication in question and the authors involved will typically also be informed.
The initial notification is the same in all three cases:
- Allegations that an author of an AMS-published paper or book is guilty of plagiarism.
- Allegations that an AMS author’s work has been copied and published by someone else, even if the offending work is published elsewhere.
- Concerns about a paper or book under review raised by an editor or reviewer.
Notification should be sent via email, detailing the concerns or allegations. Information required to substantiate these claims may include a detailed description of the alleged violation(s), citations to the material in question, and any other relevant information that would help resolve the issue. Copies of the material and/or links to websites on which they appear may be required as well.
Process for Examining Claims of Author Misconduct
Once a complaint or allegation is received and sufficient information is provided, the following steps will be followed:
- The AMS Associate Executive Director of Publications will first ask the managing editor of the publication in question to look into the issue and report back on the merits of the allegations. The editor may inform the corresponding author of allegations and seek a response. Issues of inadequate citations, when not intentional and not egregious, may be resolved at this level in a way that satisfies all parties if this process occurs prior to final publication.
- If further investigation is warranted (the issue is deemed serious and can’t be resolved by all parties) and there is sufficient information to proceed, the AMS Associate Executive Director of Publications will assemble a group of experts to examine the allegations. The AMS Associate Executive Director of Publications will coordinate this action with the appropriate people (journal managing editor, book series editor, etc., as appropriate) and may ask one of those people to lead the investigation process. The committee investigating the claims will file a formal report with the AMS Associate Executive Director of Publications that provides expert judgment on the validity of claims.
- Once the report is submitted, the AMS Associate Executive Director of Publications may pursue a variety of remedies, in consultation with the AMS Committee on Publications (CPub), if the allegations are found to be valid by the ad hoc committee. Note that the formal investigation only occurs if the editor-in-chief is unable to resolve the issue among the parties directly involved. The results of the formal investigation will be shared with the parties directly involved, and an attempt will be made to once again resolve the issue at the lower level. If the issue cannot be resolved at the lower level, and if the reviewing committee determines that author misconduct of any kind occurred, then further action must be taken.
For a paper or book in review, further action may include outright rejection of the manuscript for publication. It could even include, in extreme circumstances, involving the offending author’s institution (but only after suitable legal review by AMS’s counselor).
The case where the offending material has already been published is more serious, as one must ensure that scholarly records remain correct.
If the offending material has already appeared in an AMS publication, then additional steps may be required. These steps might include publishing a formal notice (with or without the consent of the plagiarizing author) that states the facts about the source of the work and provides the appropriate citations to that work. If the error is found to be unintentional, minor, and correctable, a correction will be published that indicates which parts of the work appeared earlier and providing the citations to that work.
If errors are present in a large portion of the paper and/or affect the conclusions of the paper, it may be necessary to issue a retraction.
The AMS office may need to contact the publisher of the original work and inform them of the problem and its resolution. That publisher may request additional remedies.
Results will be communicated via e-mail to both parties (the person who filed the complaint and the author alleged to have committed plagiarism). Further consequences may include notification of institutional authorities and possible loss of publishing privileges.