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Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism is both unethical and a violation of Stevens' rules for students and researchers. Learn what it is and how to avoid doing it.

Academic Integrity

To have integrity means to be honest and fair. The term "academic integrity” refers to conducting scholarship with honesty and fairness.

Academic integrity is maintained by collecting and presenting the results of your research without fabrication or falsification, and, when the material of others is used, responsibly citing the source of that material.


Icon: "education" by Thibault Geffroy at The Noun Project (adapted by the librarian).


Stevens Policies for Academic Integrity

Graduate Students:


Research Misconduct

Research misconduct includes the following concepts:

  • Fabrication of data (making up data)
  • Falsification of data (manipulating data, materials, or equipment)
  • Plagiarism (copying someone else's work)
The Code of Federal Regulations states that "a finding of research misconduct" by the National Science Foundation requires the following:
  1. There be a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community; and
  2. The research misconduct be committed intentionally, or knowingly, or recklessly; and
  3. The allegation be proven by a preponderance of evidence.
    (45 CFR § 689, 2012, p. 243)
However, not every mistake or disagreement counts as misconduct:
  • Honest error
  • Difference of opinion


The consequences for a finding of misconduct can come from the funder as well as the journal editor. Some journals may require running your article through a plagiarism screen prior to submission. Be sure to read through a journal's malpractice process before submitting a journal article, so you know what's expected of you and what you can expect from the publisher.

Federal Watchdogs

Federal agencies that fund research pay very close attention to where that funding is going. Different agencies have different means of doing so. All federal agencies have an Office of the Inspector General; among its other tasks, the OIG of the National Science Foundation tracks use and misuse of agency funding. While the Department of Health and Human Services also has an OIG, the vast scope of programs overseen by the HHS led to the creation of the Office of Research Integrity to focus specifically on the research funded by HHS grants.

For an example of the work done by these offices to track how funding is used, the March 2015 report from the NSF OIG reads, in part:

"We analyzed over 8,000 proposals awarded by NSF in FY 2011 for evidence of plagiarism, and investigated those which appeared serious. We opened 34 plagiarism investigations, ten of which have resulted in NSF making findings of research misconduct. So far, we have recovered $357,602 in federal funds from these investigations." (p. 5)

IEEE: A Publisher's View of Misconduct

Author misconduct "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"

Source: Section 8, Subsection 8.2.4, IEEE PSPB Operations Manual, Amended 22 June 2018, p. 104; emphasis added.

*Editor refers "to the person responsible for the publication" (p. 102)


Plagiarism includes: "(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." (p. 100)


Different levels of plagiarism lead to varying degrees of punishment:

  1. Uncredited verbatim copying of a full article or major portion, or in multiple articles by same author
  2. Uncredited verbatim copying of a large portion within an article, or in multiple articles by same author
  3. Uncredited verbatim copying of individual elements
  4. Uncredited improper paraphrasing of pages or paragraphs
  5. Credited verbatim copying of a major portion of an article without clear delineation 

Punishments range from apologies to the copied author, a notice of correction and/or retraction, and prohibition from publishing in IEEE for a period of time. Those who have been found to have plagiarized from others and banned from publishing with IEEE will be placed on a Prohibited Authors List (Section 8, Subsection 8.2.4, p. 110).

Works Cited

IEEE Publications. (2018, June 22). IEEE PSPB Operations Manual, Amended. Retrieved from

Instruction & Scholarly Communication Librarian

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Vicky Ludas Orlofsky
Research Services Department