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Self-Plagiarism Policy

Approved April 14, 2003, amended March 15, 2005, amended April 20, 2005

(For context, here is the entire (older) Self-Plagiarism policy that became current on March 15, 2005, and which is amended here. This new April 20 policy adds the last three paragraphs, on the AE's role, with a new Prior Publication Policy Prescreen.)

Self-plagiarism is when an author reuses portions of his or her previous writings in subsequent research papers. It is important that TODS have a very clear policy on this. In fact, TODS is in pretty good shape already.

There are several points that should be emphasized, but aren't.

  • The authors should tell the editor about any paper by authors of the TODS submission that overlaps significantly with the TODS submission.

    We don't want to overload either the AE or the reviewers with additional expectations that they do a thorough search for self-plagiarism. The benefit doesn't seem to outweigh the cost.

  • The policy should be explicit on what kinds of papers should be examined for overlap.
  • We should be explicit on when the author is required to inform the editor of overlap (it could be any time in-between the time of submission and time of acceptance). For example, an invited paper could be created and published after the TODS paper is submitted, so it is not enough to require the author to describe overlap when a paper is submitted.
  • We should also be explicit on how the author should inform the editor of overlap.
  • Such overlapping papers should be cited by the TODS paper.
  • The penalty for excessive self-plagiarism should be explicit.
  • We should mention this requirement in the acknowledgment letter.

The following paragraph has been added to the acknowledgment letter sent to the corresponding author.

  • The TODS web site has a Prior Publication Policy. which lists specific responsibilities that you have with regard to papers by any author of this submission that are in submission, have been accepted for publication, or have been published. Please read that policy to ensure that you are meeting these responsibilities.

The following policy should replace that in the public web page on Information for Authors.

  • Prior Publication Policy

    The technical contributions appearing in ACM journals are normally original papers that have not been published elsewhere.

    A submission based on one or more papers that appeared elsewhere must have major value-added extensions over what appeared previously. For conference papers, there is little scientific merit in simply sending the submitted version to a journal after the paper has been accepted for the conference. The scientific community gains little from this.

    Widely disseminated refereed conference proceedings, in addition to journal papers, are considered publications, but technical reports and CORR articles (neither of which are peer reviewed) are not. All overlapping papers appearing in workshop proceedings and newsletters should be brought to the editor's attention; they may be considered publications if they are peer reviewed and widely disseminated.

    Novelty Requirement

    A submitted manuscript that is based on one or more previous publications by one or more of the authors should have at least 30% new material. The new material should be content material: For example, it should not just be straightforward proofs or performance figures that do not offer substantial, new insights. The submitted manuscript affords an opportunity to present additional results, for example by considering new alternatives or by delving into some of the issues listed in the previous publication(s) as future work. At the same time, it is not required that the submitted manuscript contain all of the material from the published paper(s). To the contrary: only enough material need be included from the published paper to set the context and render the new material comprehensible.

    Disclosure Requirement

    This requirement concerns any paper by any author of the TODS submission that overlaps significantly with the TODS submission and: (a) is in submission, (b) has been accepted for publication, or (c) has been published at the time of submission. An overlap is significant when it exceeds a page of the TODS submission or when the overlap concerns content material in the TODS submission, regardless of length.

    1. Papers in categories (b) and (c) should be referenced by the TODS submission and discussed in the related work section of the submission at a level of detail similar to the level of detail used in the coverage of related work by other authors. Papers that enter into the categories (b) and (c) during the handling of the TODS submission should be afforded the same coverage in the first revision where this is possible.
    2. At the time of submission and in writing separate from the submitted manuscript, the corresponding author must inform the handling editor about all papers in categories (a)-(c). In addition, the corresponding author should promptly inform the editor about any papers that enter into categories (a)-(c) during the handling of the submission.
    3. Should the submission be accepted for TODS, it is good form to notify the editor handling papers in category (a), for the other venues, of the overlap.

    Note that the novelty requirement applies to papers in categories (a)-(c).

    The likely outcome of a failure to comply with this Prior Publication Policy is rejection. In particular, the editor, at her or his discretion, may choose immediately to reject a submission when an overlapping paper is discovered about which the corresponding author did not adhere to the requirements stated above.

    AE's can help to catch cases of self-plagarism. The first thing an AE does when they get a paper is to do an initial Prior Publication Policy Prescreen, generally as a quick Google or DBLP search (e.g., Google "dblp authorname").

    If the paper violates the prescreen, the AE has two choices. (1) The author is invited to rewrite the paper and resubmit, replacing the manuscript with one that doesn't violate the policy. (2) The AE desk rejects the paper. This would be totally the AE's decision.

    Either way, the AE would get credit for handling the paper, towards their quota.

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