Council Contact: Guy Fitzgerald, VP of Publications
Privacy Officer: Robert Davison
II. Category One
III. Category Two
1. Applying the Definition of Plagiarism
2. Evaluating the Seriousness of an Allegation of Plagiarism
Whether the Plagiarism is Intentional or Accidental
The Nature of the New Work
(3.) The Extent to Which Originality is Claimed in the New Work
(4.) The Nature of the Incorporated Material
(5.) The Nature of the Attribution Provided
(6.) Summation: The Seriousness of Plagiarism
3. Guidelines for a Victim: Dealing with Serious Plagiarism
(1.) Get Some Perspective
(2.) Establish the Plagiarism
Document your Authorship
(4.) Notify Your Administrative Head
Notify the Editors
(6.) Be Patient
5. AIS Research Conduct Committee-Process Guidelines
(1.) Editor Considers Complaint Initially
(2.) Research Conduct Committee Considers Evidence
(3.) Editor or Association Provides Redress
VII. Reference List
Members of AIS must adhere to the AIS Code of Research Conduct in
their work. AIS Council's process for dealing with allegations of
scholarly misconduct in the Association's journals and proceedings is
detailed in AIS Research Conduct Committee Process Guidelines
The AIS Code of Research Conduct expresses the standards expected of
persons qualified to be members, in relation to research and
publication. The primary focus is on scholarly works, but much of the
Code also applies to publications for teaching purposes (such as course
syllabi and reading materials) and for consultancy purposes.
The Code does not purport to regulate general conduct (e.g. towards
society and the environment) or guide members in areas of professional
activity such as teaching and consultancy more generally, and workplace
The Code is intended to have application in the following ways:
- it provides guidance for people entering the profession of
information systems research as to what plagiarism is, and how to avoid
committing it; and it is suitable for use as a resource in postgraduate
- it provides a reference-point for members of the
profession of information systems research, including guidance on how
to interpret the notion of plagiarism, how to evaluate whether a
particular act or omission constitutes plagiarism, and if so how
serious an instance of plagiarism it is
- it provides a
basis for consideration by the AIS Research Conduct Committee of
instances of possible scholarly misconduct by a member in relation to
research and publication activities
- it provides a
benchmark, recommended by AIS, against which other organisations such
as courts, tribunals, employers and publishers can consider instances
of possible scholarly misconduct by information systems professionals
in relation to research and publication activities
For each Code Item below, an explanation is provided. The
explanations do not attempt to cover every variation of possible
misconduct; they are intended to provide a general understanding of
each Code Item and its underlying principles.
This document also provides guidance in relation to the consequences
that may follow on from a finding by the Research Conduct Committee
that a breach of the Code has occurred. See ‘Consequences’.
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The body of the Code is divided into three groups of Code Items.
They are listed below in summary form, with detailed interpretations
and guidance in the following sections.
CATEGORY ONE: must ALWAYS be adhered to.
- Do not plagiarise.
- Do not fabricate or falsify data, research procedures, or data analysis.
CATEGORY TWO:Codes in this category are "recommended ethical behaviour".
- Respect the rights of research subjects,
particularly their rights to information privacy, and to being informed
about the nature of the research and the types of activities in which
they will be asked to engage.
- Do not make misrepresentations to editors and conference program chairs about the originality of papers you submit to them.
not abuse the authority and responsibility you have been given as an
editor, reviewer or supervisor, and ensure that personal relationships
do not interfere with your judgement.
- Declare any material
conflict of interest that might interfere with your ability to be
objective and impartial when reviewing submissions, grant applications,
software, or undertaking work from outside sources.
- Do not
take or use published data of others without acknowledgement, or
unpublished data without both permission and acknowledgement.
the substantive contributions of all research participants, whether
colleagues or students, according to their intellectual contribution.
not use other people’s unpublished writings, information, ideas,
concepts or data that you may see as a result of processes such as peer
review without permission of the author.
- Use archival material only in accordance with the rules of the archival source.
ADVICE: The following suggestions are provided on
how to protect yourself from authorship disputes, mis-steps, mistakes,
and even legal action.
- Keep the documentation and data necessary to validate your
original authorship for each scholarly work with which you are
- Do not republish old ideas of your own as if they were a new intellectual contribution.
- Settle data set ownership issues before data compilation.
- Consult appropriate colleagues if in doubt.
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Code Items in this category must ALWAYS be adhered to and disregard
for them constitutes a serious ethical breach. Serious breaches can
result in your expulsion from academic associations, dismissal from
your employment, legal action against you, and potentially fatal damage
to your academic reputation.
1. Do not plagiarise.
Plagiarism is the presentation of the documented work of another
person as one's own, without attribution appropriate for the medium of
presentation. Guidance is provided in relation to the application of
that definition to the evaluation of an instance of alleged plagiarism.
See ‘Applying the Definition of Plagiarism’
The seriousness of an act of plagiarism depends on the following factors:
- whether the plagiarism is intentional or reckless (rather than merely careless or accidental);
- the nature of the new work in which the plagiarised material or idea appears
- the extent to which originality is claimed in the new work;
- the nature of the incorporated material; and
- the nature of the attribution provided.
Guidance is provided in relation to the evaluation of an instance of alleged plagiarism against each of those factors. See ‘Evaluating the Seriousness of an Allegation of Plagiarism’.
The most serious forms of plagiarism are those that are extreme on all counts, i.e.:
- are intentional or reckless;
- occur in a refereed or scholarly work;
- include an express or implied claim of originality;
- involve appropriation of substantial and/or significant parts of a work; and
- fail to provide attribution, or even evidence measures to obscure the origins of the material or ideas.
Serious acts of plagiarism are harmful to academic endeavour, and
constitute a serious breach of this Code. They require action by
appropriate organisations, such as publishers of the plagiarising work,
the plagiariser's employer, and the plagiariser's professional body.
However, many instances of plagiarism are mis-judgments or errors,
arising from such sources as inadequate understanding of atttribution
norms, and failure to appreciate the importance of providing credit for
ideas that are significantly original. These are appropriately
addressed through such means as apology, amendment of the digital
'original' of the work, or publication of an errata notice; and
reprimand, caution or mentoring.
Isolated, minor acts of plagiarism should not be perceived, and nor
should they be represented, as being 'misconduct' of a kind that
warrants harsh disciplinary measures such as demotion, non-renewal of
contract or cessation of employment.
Further guidance is provided as follows:
2. Do not fabricate or falsify data, research procedures, or data analysis.
Data fabrication or falsification is a very serious offence. Data
fabrication and falsification deceives reviewers, editors and readers
as to what really occurred in the research, and therefore the
significance of the outcomes of the research. Scholars should not
doctor, tamper with or edit data, misreport research methods (including
adding procedures they did not perform, or omitting procedures they did
perform), or tamper with the results of data analysis.
Acts of this nature are harmful to academic endeavour, and
constitute a serious breach of this Code. They require action by
appropriate organisations, such as the publishers, the person’s
employer, and the person’s professional body.
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Codes in this category are "recommended ethical behaviour". Flagrant
disregard of these or other kinds of professional etiquette, while less
serious, can result in damage to your reputation, editorial sanctions,
professional embarrassment, legal action, and the ill will of your
colleagues. While individual scholars may disagree about the most
appropriate action to take in a particular situation, a broad consensus
exists that violation of any of the rules in this category constitutes
a breach of professional ethics.
3. Respect the rights of research subjects, particularly
their rights to information privacy, and to being informed about the
nature of the research and the types of activities in which they will
be asked to engage.
Scholars are expected to maintain, uphold and promote the rights of
research subjects, especially rights associated with their information
privacy. Subjects in academic research routinely volunteer information
about their behaviour, attitudes, intellect, abilities, experience,
health, education, emotions, aspirations, and so on. If you are
collecting such data, you have an obligation to respect the
confidentiality of your subjects by storing data in a secure place,
destroying it after a specified period of time, and never using it for
any purpose other than that to which the subjects agreed prior to their
In addition, unless an institutionally-approved research protocol
allows otherwise, research subjects should be informed in advance of
the purpose of any research procedure or activities in which they may
be asked to participate. They also have the right to withdraw from the
research at any stage.
Researchers must respect these rights and not coerce or otherwise
force research subjects to participate against their will, or in a
manner that is not conducive with their best interests.
4. Do not make misrepresentations to editors and conference program chairs about the originality of papers you submit to them.
Academic journals and conference proceedings are the public record
of original scientific research. In addition, editors and reviewers
contribute their own scarce resources of time and energy as a service
to the academic community. Hence you should not:
- submit a manuscript for review which is identical or very
similar to work you have published previously or which has been
accepted elsewhere for publication; or
- have essentially
the same paper before reviewers of multiple journals at the same time,
or multiple conferences at the same time.
Some practices in this area may be legitimate, however. A common
example is the presentation of a paper at a conference, in order to
obtain comment and discussion, followed by revision to reflect feedback
from reviewers and the conference presentation, and submission to a
journal. Another is republication as a book chapter, in which case the
editor must be aware of the paper’s prior publication from the outset,
and any copyright constraints must be respected. With any form of
republication, attention should be drawn to the prior paper by formal
reference or acknowledgement.
It would generally be unethical to have essentially the same paper
before the editor of a journal and under consideration for presentation
at a conference at the same time, but not if this is negotiated with
both editors at the time of submission and they both choose to have it
A further example is withdrawal of a paper from one venue and
submission to another. This may be legitimate in such circumstances as
where the first journal is very slow to provide reviews, the editor
requests changes that the author is not prepared to make, or the
author’s travel plans change and the intended conference venue is no
longer on the itinerary. It is important that explicit notice of
withdrawal be provided to the first editor prior to submitting the work
to the second editor.
5. Do not abuse the authority and responsibility you have
been given as an editor, reviewer or supervisor, and ensure that
personal relationships do not interfere with your judgement.
Editors, reviewers and supervisors are by definition in a
position of authority over others. Under no circumstances should you
use your position for personal advantage (such as by coercion) or to
the disadvantage of others. You should also take care that any personal
relationship that pre-exists or develops during the course of the
editorial or supervisory process does not interfere with your ability
to be objective. If such a situation does arise, then you should at
least make a declaration and preferably withdraw from any
decision-making process concerning the individual with whom the
As an editor or reviewer, you also have an ethical obligation to
complete your reviews and review-related actions in a timely fashion.
Editors and reviewers should work together to ensure a prompt review
cycle ideally not exceeding three months from the date of receipt of
the manuscript to the date a decision has been communicated to the
6. Declare any material conflict of interest that might
interfere with your ability to be objective and impartial when
reviewing submissions, grant applications or software, and undertaking
Scholars are routinely involved in reviewing submissions for
journals, conferences, granting agencies, job applications, cases
involving promotion or tenure, book manuscripts, and occasionally
product (especially software) assessments. But conflicts of interest
can and do arise in a relatively tight academic community. Such
conflicts may involve personal, scholarly, financial or other
relationships – any relationship which might interfere with your
ability to remain objective and impartial. You must reveal to any
relevant parties any actual or potential conflict of interest prior to
agreeing to undertake any review, assessment or critique, and as part
of the report that you submit.
7. Do not take or use published data of others without
acknowledgement, or unpublished data without both permission and
Compiling a set of data, whether from the field, laboratory, or
secondary sources, may require a substantial investment of time,
energy, and financial resources. You should not use or publish from
someone else's data set without their permission. However, data
appearing as part of a publication is by definition in the public
record and may be used without permission, though not without
acknowledgement. See “Settle data ownership issues before data
compilation” in the Advice section below.
8. Acknowledge the substantive contributions of all research
participants, whether colleagues or students, according to their
Since authorship implies a claim to, and readiness to take public
responsibility for, the intellectual activity involved in a
publication, only those who have made a substantial intellectual
contribution to the research should be listed as authors. Submitting a
manuscript to which non-participating authors are added, for whatever
purpose, is a form of misrepresentation.
Each participant in the work, whether colleagues, students or other
research assistants, should be acknowledged according to their
intellectual contribution to the final product. Such acknowledgment may
occur in the form of author inclusion and authorship order, by formal
acknowledgement in an endnote, or by mention in the text. Thus, a
colleague who performs as the intellectual leader of the effort but who
may have done little actual writing may qualify as an author, and a
colleague who performs sophisticated data analyses but who may have
only peripheral interest in the subject matter may also be included as
an author – in both cases, depending on the intellectual contribution
of the analyses performed. By contrast, a research assistant who
collects the data set, however substantial, may only qualify for
acknowledgement because of the absence of significant intellectual
Individuals responsible for major parts of the funding of a project
are occasionally given full authorship credit. Practice varies in this
regard, but such attribution should be avoided wherever possible since
there is no inherent connection between intellectual contribution and
financial contribution. The IS community generally interprets an
attribution of authorship as a recognition of substantive contribution
to the research, not as knowledge of how best to fund a project.
9. Do not use other people’s unpublished writings,
information, ideas, concepts or data that you may see as a result of
processes such as peer review without permission of the author.
When you serve as a reviewer or editor, you gain privileged access
to documents in the review process. Reviewers and editors must respect
this privilege by maintaining the confidentiality of information seen
in the review process. If you wish to cite or otherwise use or
distribute such unpublished material, you should do so only with prior
permission of the author.
Independently of a review process, you may receive unpublished work
by way of working papers, visiting scholar research seminars, or in the
recruiting process as candidates present a paper as part of a visit. Do
not use or quote such material without obtaining prior permission of
10. Use archival material only in accordance with the rules of the archival source.
Archived material, perhaps in the form of digital libraries, is made
available by individual researchers, institutions and professional
societies. This archived material is usually subject to rules on
dissemination, citation, copying and so on. Such rules may be in place
to meet copyright or other legal requirements and must be respected.
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ADVICE: Some suggestions on how to protect yourself from authorship disputes, mis-steps, mistakes, and even legal action.
1. Keep the documentation and data necessary to validate
your original authorship for each scholarly work with which you are
Plagiarism may be damaging and traumatic for all involved – those
plagiarised, those who plagiarise (and are detected), editors,
reviewers, colleagues, department heads, and even deans. But plagiarism
complaints may be more readily resolved, and harm redressed if you
maintain a ‘paper trail’, i.e., documents (hardcopy or electronic)
which establish your authorship. For each scholarly work with which you
are involved, maintain sufficient information to establish that you are
the original author. This includes correspondence (whether electronic
or paper) with editors, reviewers, and publishers and early versions of
the manuscript. Other materials of value include reviewer comments and
rejection letters if the manuscript was submitted for publication; and
any related working papers, conference proceedings and research grants.
Dated materials are particularly important since they can serve as the
strongest evidence of your original authorship. For further advice in
dealing with a situation in which you feel your work has been
plagiarized, see Guidelines for a Victim.
2. Do not republish ideas of your own as if they were a new intellectual contribution.
As your research program and publications unfold, you will commonly
cite and describe your prior work. In fact, reviewing your own research
stream may be the only practical way to provide the context necessary
for the new work you are discussing. This is especially the case if you
are pioneering in a niche area. But you should not attempt to build a
new article largely from a re-working of your previous publications,
unless there is a sufficient new contribution. For example, the threads
of previous thought may be re-woven to reveal new patterns,
perspectives or insights, or the previous work may be re-expressed in
order to address a new audience, in particular academics in adjacent
disciplines, or information systems professionals. Unimproved
re-publication of one’s own work is sometimes referred to by the
expression ‘self-plagiarism’, and should be avoided.
3. Settle data set ownership issues before data compilation.
Disputes over data sets are more likely to occur among collaborating
researchers than with other parties. For example, data may be collected
and analysed by a research team, but later a team member separately
publishes an article reporting new analyses of the data. Other team
members ‘cry foul’ but the author argues that the work in question was
not envisaged when the data set was first collected. Furthermore, he
argues, as a co-owner of the data set, he should have the right to
publish from it without seeking the permission of other co-owners.
There are many other possible disputes regarding the use of data sets -
disputes for which there may be no clear-cut resolution but which can
nonetheless result in severe inter-personal tensions and recrimination.
To avoid such situations, collaborating scholars should reach an
explicit agreement (in writing) on the use of a data set, ideally prior
to its compilation. The agreement should include the acknowledgement
necessary to satisfy the co-owners, should a publication result. The
acknowledgment may be as modest as an endnote, or as significant as
co-authorship, depending on the co-owners’ intellectual contribution to
the publication. In general, in no case should you risk the ill will of
your colleagues or accusations of misbehaviour by failing to secure
explicit prior permission (in writing) to use a data set, whether or
not you are a co-owner.
4. Consult appropriate colleagues if in doubt.
Learning the finer points of scholarly etiquette is a slow process.
Even experienced scholars sometimes disagree on what constitutes
acceptable behaviour or whether or not a particular act is ethical. But
if you have doubts about how to behave or deal with a particular
research or publishing situation, consult with an appropriate colleague.
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The following sources are acknowledged:
The original version of the AIS Code of Research Conduct (September
23, 2003) was prepared by the AIS Research Conduct Committee consisting
of Robert Davison, City University of Hong Kong, Malcolm Munro,
University of Calgary, and Detmar Straub, Georgia State University.
The current revision of May 2009 was prepared by a Task Group
established by David Avison, AIS President, comprising Robert Davison,
City University of Hong Kong (Chair), Cynthia Beath, University of
Texas at Austin, and Roger Clarke, Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd and the
Australian National University. It benefited from comments provided by
a small, invited Reference Group. The supporting documents relating to
the evaluation of accusations of plagiarism drew on Clarke (2006).
Feedback and questions may be directed to the chairperson of the
Research Conduct Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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